This recipe started out as an attempt to make homemade graham crackers for my kids. They polished off the box I had on hand, and I thought maybe I’d try to make a version that didn’t have all the additives of many store-bought counterparts.
Then, the daydreaming started (yes, I have regular food daydreams). Why make regular graham crackers when you can add chocolate? Why not top said chocolate graham crackers with fruit? And why not roast that fruit with honey and vanilla to make it perfectly ooey, gooey and speckled with real vanilla bean seeds, and then finish it off with mascarpone whipped cream and fresh thyme leaves?
Sometimes my food daydreams turn out in reality to be more like Michael Scott’s peanut butter and tuna sandwich fiasco. Fortunately, however, this recipe didn’t share that fate. It’s everything you want in dessert – sweet, chocolaty, warm, creamy and decadent. Serve a few graham crackers piled with a big scoop of strawberries and a spoonful of whipped cream for a full-sized dessert, or make bite-sized versions on a single cracker.
I guess my attempt at making a snack for my kids resulted in all-out, grown up dessert. Oh well. I did share a few graham crackers with them...but the vanilla roasted strawberries and mascarpone whipped cream? That part’s just for me.
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Vanilla Roasted Strawberries
Yields enough for 4-5 full-sized dessert servings
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, toss together the strawberries, honey and salt. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds, reserving the pod. Add the seeds to the bowl and toss everything together.
Spread the strawberries out onto the prepared baking sheet, along with the scraped out vanilla pod. Roast for about 15-18 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Discard the vanilla bean pod. Allow the strawberries to cool slightly. Serve over chocolate graham crackers and top with mascarpone whipped cream and fresh thyme leaves.
Quick Tip: These strawberries can be used to top pretty much anything! Try them on pancakes, waffles or cheesecake!
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup cold whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (such as Heilala brand)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or a couple knives. Mix together until crumbly (I end up just using my fingers).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Slowly add the liquid mixture to the dry flour mixture and stir with a fork or your hands just until the dough comes together. Add a splash more milk if the dough seems too dry.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Fold it over a few times with your hands until the dough is smooth. Divide it in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Remove one of the balls of dough from the refrigerator and unwrap it. On a well-floured work surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 1/16-inch thick. Trim the edges and cut the dough into 3 inch squares. Place the squares on a parchment lined baking sheet and evenly prick the top of each with a fork.
Repeat this process with the second batch of dough (and any dough scraps you have left).
Bake the graham crackers for about 16-18 minutes, or until the edges are darkened a bit and slightly firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and allow crackers to cool completely. Top with vanilla roasted strawberries, mascarpone whipped cream and a few fresh thyme leaves.
Graham crackers can be stored well wrapped at room temperature for about a week. Store in the freezer for a longer shelf-life.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream
Yields enough for 4-5 full-sized dessert servings
1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, such as Heilala brand)
½ cup mascarpone
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to a mixing bowl along with the mascarpone and whipping cream.
Using a hand whisk or an electric mixer, mix ingredients together until stiff peaks form. Serve on top of vanilla roasted strawberries and chocolate graham crackers.
Quick Tip: I didn’t add sugar to the whipped cream because I think it’s plenty sweet when added to the strawberries and graham crackers. However, you can add sugar to taste if you prefer more sweetness.