Plantain Crackers (Nut-free, Egg-free)
One of the things that many people miss when they adopt a paleo diet is crunch, especially the slightly salty crunch of crackers. There are a number of grain-free cracker recipes around (see www.elenaspantry.com for a great variety of cracker recipes), but of the ones I’ve tried, none really replicate that cracker crunch completely. Well, until now! The inspiration for these crackers came from this plantain tortilla chip recipe from www.kateshealthycupboard.com. The idea to use green plantains as a chip base was inspired! To create something more like a cracker than a chip required extensive experimentation with fat content and cooking temperature (I also played with adding various paleo flours but abandoned that idea when they just didn’t taste as good as straight plantains).
These crackers are perfectly crunchy, sturdy, taste amazing, and even keep for a few days without going soft (as many other cracker recipes tend to do). They are super easy to make and require only three ingredients! My whole family is addicted to these crackers. The secret is to use very green plantains. When you find green plantains in the store (most grocery stores carry them close to the bananas; even my local Walmart has them!), you can take them home and pop them into the fridge, where they will ripen much more slowly (they might even yellow slightly but won’t really be as ripe as that same color would indicate if they were ripening at room temperature). Once they start to yellow substantially, plantains change in taste and get sweeter. For sweet plantain recipes, you really have to wait until they are completely black (which means they are ripe). If your plantains are in the fridge, just let them warm to room temperature for an hour or two before you start making these crackers.
- 2 large green plantains (equivalent to about 2 cups pureed)
- ½ cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted (I also tried palm shortening, which worked but didn’t taste quite as good as the evco)
- ½ tsp salt, to taste
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (I use a 13”x18” “half sheet”-sized jelly roll pan but a small difference in size won’t make a big difference in your crackers). Make sure your parchment goes right up to each edge of the pan. Preheat oven to 300F.
- Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until a completely smooth puree is formed, about 2-4 minutes (it doesn’t matter if you don’t have exactly 2 cups of plantain puree as long as you are fairly close, say within ¼ cup). This blends easier if your plantains are at room temperature and your coconut oil is melted.
- Pour batter (it should look very much like hummus) onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a rubber spatula to smooth it out and cover the entire sheet uniformly (this might take a couple of minutes, but it doesn’t need to be perfect). The batter should be about 1/8” thick.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and score the cracker batter with a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or pastry scraper (which is what I used). You can make whatever size cracker you like. The crackers will pull away from each other slightly while cooking and shrink up a bit, but not much. I like fairly small crackers, about 1½” squares, but these will work even for quite big crackers.
- Place back in the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, until golden brown (if you have slightly thicker crackers, this may take longer… I’ve occasionally had batches that took 70 minutes before being done). Remove from oven and let cool slightly on the pan. Move to a cooling rack (you will probably be moving fairly big pieces of several crackers stuck together). Once completely cool, you can break apart any crackers that are stuck together.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!
RECIPE UPDATE: I want to throw a quick note into this recipe. When I first made this recipe, I had a cheap and not very powerful food processor. I got a REAL food processor for Christmas this year and wow! what a difference! It’s so much faster and easier to get a good puree. Even with very green plantains, it only takes about 2 minutes. So, food processor power seems very helpful with these. The other thing I’ve noticed is that the cooking time varies quite a a bit with both exactly how much volume of plantain you have in the recipe and how green the plantains are. Greener ones take longer to cook (and typically taste better too) as do batches made with slightly larger plantains, so the range of cooking times after cutting the crackers is really anywhere form 50 minutes to 80 minutes. Keep an eye on them and don’t pull them out the oven until they are a nice medium shade of brown (you can always taste one to see if it’s crisp enough, until you get the hang of this recipe).