Before we get started, let me just say that, yes, I do know that most people just buy these at the store. However. I’ve yet to find the recipe that promised to help me make something either cheaper or healthier than I could buy it that I didn’t want to try. Lest you think I’m some sort of kitchen wizard that makes every. single. thing. from scratch, let me assure you that I do not. I’ll try anything once, but it has to be either exceedingly fantastic or exceedingly easy for me to make a habit of it. These crackers are both.
I should perhaps also tell you that I don’t even like Goldfish crackers. I’ve never cared for any of the cheese flavored snacks that most kids (and husbands) love. I can’t stand cheez-its or cheetos either. So why would I bother with these? Because my child, like many, loves bread.
Since we’ve been letting our nearly 9-month old join us for meals, she’s been a fairly adventurous eater. She’ll try anything we give her, and she like the strangest things (for instance: I’ve never seen a baby put away a lemon slice before, but she appears to love them). And she absolutely adores bread. Loaf bread, pizza crusts, focaccia. Plain, toasted, as a vehicle for smearing yogurt all over the table… If I don’t offer her any, she will usually happily pick her way through any number of fruits, veggies, or meats. If I do put bread on the table, she will ignore everything else and eat only that. Don’t get me wrong, I love bread myself, and I don’t mind if she does either, but it’s not exactly packed with nutrition. I wanted to be able to offer her something that she likes, but in a self-limiting package so that she could get her fix, but then move on the to the more nutritious items. As crackers are really just bread’s smaller, thinner, possibly more delicious cousin, I thought I could offer her one as a side for her veggies and see what happened. It worked perfectly: she ate the wheat thin right away and then moved right on to the broccoli.
Which leads me to these Goldfish. They’re small, apparently delicious, and adorable. Imagine my surprise when I tasted them and found them to be, not only apparently, but actually, delicious. And by making them myself I can limit the amount of salt, which is my main complaint with store-bought snacks. They are definitely baby-approved, being the perfect size for tiny fingers to grasp while remaining just outside the bounds of the dreaded choking hazard (although, of course, you should always use caution with small babies and food). And as I mentioned above, they are exceedingly easy to make. The ingredient list is gratifyingly short (only 6 ingredients!), and I had these mixed, cut out, baked, cooled, and ready for consumption in about 45 minutes. Honestly, the part that took me the longest was “decorating” them, and you can totally skip that and save yourself an additional 15 minutes.
I got the recipe from (no surprise) Smitten Kitchen. I’ll copy it below, since I did make a change to the type of flour, but I urge you to visit her post if you need any help, as she has several good tips.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields aproximately 100 1 1/4 inch goldfish
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups coarsely grated) sharp cheddar
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (37 grams) whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon table salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, running the machine until the dough forms a ball, about two minutes.
If the dough feels warm or too soft, wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. This also makes it easier to transfer shapes once they are rolled out.
On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick. Form shapes with a cookie cutter, dipping it in flour from time to time to ensure a clean cut. If you like, poke a hole for the eye (I used a toothpick), and use the edge of a spoon to make a little smile. Gently transfer crackers to an ungreased cookie sheet with a 1/2 inch between them. Bake the crackers on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are barely browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before removing to a rack. Keeps at room temperature in an air-tight container for several days.
NOTES: Yes I did buy a special cookie cutter just for this. Any shape will work, you don’t have to make them in the shape of fish. But they are super duper adorable, and who am I to resist when Amazon makes it so easy to procure such things?
Deb at Smitten Kitchen went full-on healthy by making these whole wheat. I appreciate that it’s really good for you, but I don’t always love whole wheat cluttering up the flavor of my favorite snacks. So I switched the amounts and made the larger amount AP flour, and the smaller whole wheat. I couldn’t even tell it was there.