Continuing the party food theme, all good dips require something good to dip in them. My main requirements for dipables is that they are nice and crunchy so you have a texture contrast and strong enough to support a generous scoop or dip without crumbling or breaking off under the load. I’m a big fan of crudities – usually carrot and celery sticks but it’s nice to have something a little less virtuous on offer. When I need a clever little something for a party I often turn to Chocolate and Zucchini for ideas; I think Clotilde must be a consummate hostess since her blog and cookbooks have no end of great recipes and tips for entertaining. I’ve made her hazelnut and thyme crackers many times, in many forms and doubt I’ll ever be bored with them. They have a beautiful crumbly, nubbly texture from the finely chopped nuts and herby, earthy notes from the thyme.
These crackers are really multi-purpose; you can serve them with cheeses or top them with smoked salmon or even wrap them up nicely for homemade presents. You can also use the dough as pastry for quiches or savoury tarts. They do, however, go particularly well with roasted pumpkin and cream cheese dip; the nuttiness brings out the sweet flavour of the pumpkin and I’ve always loved thyme with any kind of winter squash. Use whatever shape cutter you fancy, perhaps avoiding anything too intricate since the dough can be a tad crumbly. I like stars around Christmas but neat little squares and circles are equally attractive and don’t even require cutters, just a steady hand or a clean glass.
Hazelnut and thyme crackers
Makes about 40 x 3-4cm crackers
- 140g hazelnuts
- 100g unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 2tsp dried thyme
- a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 140g plain flour
In a food processor chop the nuts until they are quite fine but not powder.
Add the butter and blend until combined. Add the egg, thyme, salt and pepper and mix again.
Finally pour in the flour and pulse until a dough comes together. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for an hour.
Heat the oven to 180°C.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 3–4mm thickness. Cut shapes and transfer to a baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper.
Bake for 10–12 minutes until firm and starting to turn golden.
Cool crackers on a rack before serving.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.