“How am I going to do this?”

Rule No. 1 for the holiday party circuit: If you don’t have time to make something, don’t offer.

It’d seemed like an innocent request. “Can I bring anything?” I asked the hostess the day of her cocktail party.

“Yes!” she said. “Bring an appetizer!”

So here I was, prepping for a job, shopping for the week and fretting over what — and when — I’d make a party-worthy nibble.

crackers cuttingAs the day wound down and I started baking sugar cookies for clients’ holiday gifts, inspiration (or a little bit of crazy) hit: Could these cookies turn savory?

The sugar cookie recipe is a winner. Clipped from “Gourmet” magazine years ago, it calls for minimal ingredients (cornmeal, sugar, butter, vanilla); requires no refrigeration; and comes together in just 5 minutes. The cookies are tiny, crisp and slightly toothsome from the cornmeal.

What, I wondered, would happen if I substituted Parmesan cheese for the sugar? Lost the vanilla in favor of savory herbs? Glazed the tops with a bit of cream and seeds?

With just an hour before the party, I threw my ingredients into the food processor and started working.

And that’s how I arrived at the party with these:


Rich, buttery cocktail crackers that both melted on the tongue and had a bit of bite to them (both literally and taste-wise).

I’ll take these to every holiday party!

Parmesan Cocktail Crackers

Use whatever dried or fresh herbs you have on hand for these little rounds. Likewise, use whatever seeds you want, or simply sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper.

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (I used coarse)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Half & half
  • Assorted seeds (I used cumin, fennel and sesame)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

crackers doughWhisk the flour, cornmeal, corn starch, dried herbs and salt in a small bowl and set it aside.

Place the butter, Parmesan and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and process until creamy (about 30 seconds).

Add the dry ingredients to the processor. Using on/off turns, pulse until the dough comes together.

crackers rollingTurn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and pat into a disk. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick. (The thinner dough will yield crisper crackers.)

Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles and place them on the prepared baking sheet.

crackers raw2Pour a bit of half-and-half into a bowl and brush the tops of the crackers with it. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the half-and-half glaze.

Place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the crackers are golden and the bottoms are browned.

Cool completely before moving onto a serving plate.