Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Graham Crackers and Smores
Sometimes I like to reinvent the wheel. Why buy it when I can make it.
I grew up eating so many graham crackers and loved them. In today’s world, full of spiced Biscoff cookies and Double Stuffed Oreos, it seems the humble graham cracker may have a hard time competing. Well, game on because these crispy, crunchy, cinnamon-infused crackers hold their own.
This is a bucket list recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a couple years and finally did it. Making the dough is fast, easy, and starts like making cookie dough.
Combine butter, dark brown sugar, honey, molasses, and vanilla. Cream until it’s light and fluffy, and add in the two flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and mix until the dough comes together. Chill it, roll it out, and bake crackers.
The only item that may throw you for a loop is whole wheat pastry flour, otherwise known as graham flour. Yes, they’re the same thing, much to the surprise of many, including me until I started doing research for this recipe.
Whole wheat pastry flour, or graham flour, is what we associate the taste of graham crackers to be. It’ is milled from low-protein soft wheat, producing a flour with a mellow 9% protein compared to all-purpose, which is around 10-11% or bread flour that’s around 11-12%. It has the softness and fineness of cake flour, with the health benefits of wheat flour, and has a telltale graham flavor.
King Arthur makes one but I used Bob’s Red Mill because I found it locally. iHerb sells the flour for $5 bucks, and if you have other shopping to do, I highly recommend iHerb for everything from vanilla stevia drops to probiotics to nutritional yeast. Coupon code AVE630 will save you $5 bucks on your order, so the flour is basically free.
If you absolutely don’t want to pick up whole wheat pastry flour, I’m sure you can use regular whole wheat flour, although I haven’t tried the recipe that way.
After mixing the dough, wrap it and chill for at least 2 hours, or up until 5 days. I love make-ahead doughs because I can roll out and bake at my leisure.
This dough is scrumptiously good and aside from the butter, it’s vegan (no eggs or dairy). I bet you could use vegan butter or vegetable shortening with success.
On a floured surface or Silpats pushed together, roll out the dough to one-eighth of an inch thick. The thinner you roll the dough, the crunchier, crisper and lighter your crackers will be. Rolling it as thin as I could before it ripped yielded my best, crispiest crackers.
I placed two large pieces of plasticwrap over the dough before rolling so it didn’t stick to the rolling pin and so I didn’t have to use additional flour, which dries it out.
Cut it out with biscuit or cookie cutters, or slice it with slice with a pizza wheel or fancy pastry cutter that makes ruffled edges. I prefer the pizza wheel method so I didn’t have to re-roll dough as many scraps that come from using cookie cutters. I made my crackers about 3×3 inches each, but getting creative with the shapes and sizes is up to you. It’s almost like making gingerbread cookies.
Transfer the dough to baking sheets and pierce the crackers several times each with a fork to prevent them from puffing up like hot air balloons while baking.
I fit 15 crackers per tray, spaced about 3/4-inch apart. The crackers don’t spread as much as cookies, but they spread a bit more than I anticipated. Some baked into each other and I had to separate them with a spatula edge so the spacing in the photo below is as tight as I’d recommend.
I baked one tray at a time because my oven has one perfect rack and if I try to bake using both racks, neither turn out well, as I’ve learned from cookie-making. While the first tray bakes, keeping the second tray in the fridge so the dough stays cool will prevent spreading.
Before putting the trays in the oven, sprinkle the tops with a cinnamon-sugar mixture. I used turbinado sugar. After baking, I hit them with a pinch more sugar. You can never have too much sugar.
I like the visual appeal of the big sugar crystals and because the sugar has hints of molasses, it complements the molasses used in the dough. Plus biting down into all those crunchies is the best.
Bake the crackers for about 15 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through. The crackers firm and crisp up as they cool, so don’t overbake. They’re dark and it’s hard to see how dark they’re getting, but nothing says disgusting quite like burnt sugar or burnt whole wheat flour so watch them
If you thought all graham crackers were created equal, or that graham crackers are just something you crush up to use as the crust in a recipe, these will change your mind.
They’re crispy, crunchy, more buttery, and richer tasting than storebought. Between the graham flour, dark brown sugar, honey, and molasses, they have a flavor depth unlike any graham crackers I’ve ever tried.
The sweetness from the dark brown sugar and honey gives them just enough sweetness to make them very satisfying and they’re almost graham-cookies rather than graham-crackers. Fine by me.
Since there’s cinnamon in both the dough and sprinkled on top, the flavor is noticeable without being overdone. If you prefer plain graham crackers, omit the cinnamon in one or both places. If you really love cinnamon, doubling the amount added to the dough would be fine and it still wouldn’t be over-powering. All that flour can handle a heavy hand with the cinnamon.
There’s likely a way to turn them into chocolate graham crackers by replacing some of the all-purpose flour with cocoa powder, but for now, I’ll happily spread Nutella or Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter on them when I want to get my chocolate fix on.
They’re good enough to stand on their own and I’ve been happily making crumbs all over my house as I nibble on them. They are addictive and I keep reaching for one more, one more.
If you like to dunk cookies in your coffee, these are made for dunking.
The crackers are even better when made into smores. I used 3 big homemade marshmallows with 3 small chunks of dark chocolate laid on top of the marshmallows. Ten seconds later in the microwave, and ooey, gooey smores are ready.
My six year old told me this was the best thing I’ve ever made. I tend to not entirely discount her statement because she did recipe test my cookbook with me. She can give you a dissertation on dark vs. bittersweet vs. milk chocolate or how the sugar crystals would reflect light “and be all sparkly and pretty in the pics, Mommy.”
You’ll never look at graham crackers as ‘just’ a graham cracker after trying homemade. Or homemade smores.
Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Graham Crackers + Smores
Making graham crackers at home is easier than you think and is like making cut-out cookies. The dough comes together easily and can be rolled out and cut into whatever shapes and sizes you like. The crackers are perfumed with cinnamon and lightly sweetened with honey, molasses, and turbinado sugar. They’re crispy, crunchy, buttery, richer and so much more flavorful than storebought, for a fraction of the cost. They’re wonderful eating as-is but even better when made into smores, which only take about 15 seconds to complete in the microwave.
Graham Cracker Dough
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened*
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon light or medium molasses (not dark or blackstrap, it’s too bitter)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) graham flour – also known as whole wheat pastry flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour)
1 tablespoon cinnamon (use 2 tablespoons if you love cinnamon)
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
about 1/3 cup turbinado sugar plus more for sprinkling after baking (turbinado or ‘chunky’ sugar preferred; granulated sugar may be substituted)
About 1 tablespoon cinnamon
To Make 1 Smores/Sandwich use:
2 graham crackers
3 or 4 large marshmallows (or about 1 dozen mini marshmallows)
about 1 ounce chocolate, chopped into 3 or 4 smaller chunks (I prefer dark chocolate)
For the Graham Cracker Dough
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter*, dark brown sugar honey, molasses, vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes (scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary). With the mixer on low, add the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, optional salt, and beat just until dough comes together, about 1 minute.Turn the dough out onto a piece of plasticwrap and shape into a 7-inch square. Wrap and refrigerate the dough to chill for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment. Remove dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling it out. On a lightly floured surface (I push two Silpats together) roll out dough into a large rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick. I put two large pieces of plasticwrap over my dough before I roll it so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin.
- Using a cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, pizza wheel, or fancier pastry wheel, cut the dough into desired shapes and sizes. I made 3-inch squares using a pizza wheel. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more crackers until all the dough is gone.
- Use a spatula to transfer dough to prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3/4-inch space between them. They don’t spread as much as cookies but they spread some. Keeping trays in the fridge and the dough chilled prevents spreading. My oven is temperamental and I get better results baking 1 tray at a time; and keep the remaining trays in the fridge. With a fork, dock (pierce) each cracker a few times to prevent them from puffing and inflating while baking.
- *Although I have not tried it, I have a feeling you could keep these crackers vegan by replacing the butter with vegetable shortening or use a vegan butter substitute.
For the Cinnamon-Sugar Topping
- Combine 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, stir, and generously sprinkle the tops of dough before baking.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Rotate trays midway through baking. Baking time may need to be adjusted by a couple minutes depending on size of crackers made. Don’t over bake; crackers will firm up as they cool. If desired, sprinkle crackers with generous pinches of sugar as they cool. Allow crackers to cool for a couple minutes on baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
For the Smores
- To make 1 Smores/Sandwich, place one graham cracker on a microwave-safe plate, top with 3 large marshmallows or about 1 dozen mini marshmallows, top with 3 small chunks of dark chocolate, and microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. If making more than 1 Smores/Sandwich at a time, I microwave them one at a time rather than as a batch because the melting is smoother. Serve immediately.
Crackers very loosely adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones
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I’d love to try homemade graham crackers in place of the graham crackers in any of these bars:
Peanut Butter Cocoa Krispies Smores Bars (almost no-bake)
Deep Dish Double Chocolate Golden Grahams Smores Bars (with vegan & GF options)
Vegan Gluten-Free Seeds-Only Crackers (Homemade Mary’s Crackers)
Do you like graham crackers? Have you made any copycat, homemade or DIY versions of a fave storebought treat?
If you have favorite recipes using graham crackers or a fave DIY or copycat recipes, please share the links.
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