Want to wake up your inner child? Who doesn’t remember that wonderful after school snack of graham crackers dunked in milk?
As children, my sister and I would help ourselves to this mother-approved snack, dragging heavy wooden chairs across a cool, linoleum floor to reach the glasses—real glass, not plastic. With steady hands, my sister would pass one down for me and wait patiently as I used two hands to set it on top of the kitchen table. Then she would hand me a second glass.
Next, we would lug out the hefty milk gallon from the fridge. As it tipped, cold refreshment sloshed out, deep into our cups (and sometimes, a little on the table, too).
We knew nothing of serving sizes then, and simply dunked to our hearts’ content. I kept my graham cracker sheet long and fully intact, working quickly so as not to lose an end that had been over-softened by too long a dunk. We usually stopped when the brown paper package was empty.
I still enjoy graham crackers with their textured grains and subtle sweetness. It’s a snack that continues to take me back to those simpler days.
Yet, today’s graham crackers contain all sorts of strange ingredients: partially hydrogenated oil (fancy words for ‘transfat’) and artificial flavors. Who needs that?
Luckily, I met Anneliese, a wonderful woman from Attune Foods, a few months ago. The company she works for is based right here in California (San Francisco), and takes pride in producing real food for label-readers like me. Their all-organic, non-GMO honey grahams contain ingredients that I use in my own kitchen: baking soda, cream of tartar, molasses, and honey. No artificial flavors or transfats here!
Anneliese kindly sent me some Attune Foods products to sample, including these honey grahams, which are by far the best graham crackers out there! I wanted to create a recipe with the graham crackers that maintained the integrity of this simple snack’s original childhood intentions: dunking. Yet, I also wanted something sophisticated enough to serve my adult friends.
I’ve whipped up a creamy, sweetened ricotta-based treat that can be scooped up with honey grahams. It’s playful and childlike, yet amazing enough to serve fully grown guests.
The fluffy ricotta filling is kissed with vanilla and orange zest for that creamsicle-like taste of yore. A crunchy graham topping is sprinkled on top. Add slices of blood orange, serve in the blood orange peel, and eat with graham crackers used for scoopers.
*Note: flashbacks of Rainbow Bright and summer water balloon fights may result from consumption of this recipe.
Blood Orange Cream Graham Cracker Snack Recipe
8 full graham cracker sheets, broken into pieces
1 cup walnuts
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
Zest from half an orange
1 blood orange, cut into sections
6 full graham cracker sheets, broken into quarters
Farmers’ market ingredients: walnuts, oranges
California-produced ingredients: graham crackers, cheeses
Supermarket ingredients: sugars, vanilla
In a food processor, combine graham crackers, walnuts, and brown sugar. Blend until well combined and the consistency of light sand. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine cheeses, vanilla, powdered sugar, and orange zest. Stir with a spoon until well combined.
Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta mixture into a hallowed out orange peel or a small cocktail glass. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the graham and walnut mixture over the ricotta cream. Garnish with 1 quarter wedge of graham cracker and 1 slice of orange. Repeat. Serve with additional graham cracker quarters for dipping.
Yield: about 6 servings of ricotta cream, plus 2 cups graham cracker walnut topping.
You will have lots of leftover graham cracker walnut topping. It’s delicious sprinkled over oatmeal, ice cream, or yogurt.