My child eats his own weight in food every day, or so it seems, so I’m always on the lookout for new snack ideas. I’m not fond of the idea of buying pre-packaged snacks that are aimed at toddlers because they are often nothing more than rice, sugar and preservatives. They also come with a lot of unnecessary packaging that ends up in the recycling or worse, the garbage. Aside from the unwanted ingredients and waste, toddler snacks can get expensive and I save a bunch of money by making my own.
When I’m hunting for a new recipe, my requirements are pretty simple. It must require ingredients that I often have on hand, be free of sugar or use unrefined alternatives like homemade unsweetened applesauce or bananas, and be quick and easy to make. Also, the fewer ingredients, the better!
I never would have thought to use sweet potatoes to make crackers, but I found a recipe from Merriment Design that uses 5 everyday ingredients (I altered it slightly) and mixes up in a flash. I must admit that I used a handy dandy stand mixer, but I think you could easily cut in the butter with a fork and then knead in the sweet potato. If you use the linked recipe, you will see that it calls for sugar. I found that the sweet potato makes it sweet enough and you don’t really need anything more.
Sugar-free Sweet Potato Toddler Crackers
1 medium sweet potato cooked and puréed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened (not melted)
1 1/2 cups flour (whole wheat, white, sorghum or a gluten-free mix of your choice)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
Put the butter in your bowl. Sift in (or just dump in – who’s got the time, amiright?) the flour, baking powder and salt. If you are using a stand mixer, use your regular mixing attachment to mix the butter and flour mixture until it has a coarse meal-like texture. You can achieve this with a fork or a butter-cutter-inner (?) or even a food processor, I imagine.
Next, switch to a dough hook if you are using a mixer, otherwise, get kneady. Add the sweet potato purée and mix or knead until you get a nice moist, but not sticky, ball of dough.
Divide the dough up into two balls. I found that it was easiest to work with smaller portions. Lightly flour your counter or use a pastry mat (I’ve gotta get one of these! I’m sure Capital Iron would have one – they have everything!) and roll out your dough until it’s as thin as possible. These crackers will puff up and they can be quite chewy if they are too thick.
I really wanted to make fun shapes so I picked up a tiny squirrel and a tiny acorn cookie cutter. The takeaway lesson? Don’t get tiny cookie cutters unless you want to spend your entire day making crackers. I didn’t. I made a few squirrels and acorns, but quickly abandoned the idea and used a pizza cutter to quickly slice little squares and rectangles. Really, though? My 18 month old is going to stuff these crackers into his mouth so quickly that he wouldn’t know if they had a picture of his own face on them..let alone a tiny, nearly indiscernible squirrel. Next time I may use a bigger star or heart shape, though. Something that won’t require me to peel fingernail sized shapes off the counter.
Once you’ve cut your crackers into your desired shapes and sizes, put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a reusable silicone mat. You can put them really close together since they won’t get much bigger around.
Bake them at 350˚ for 10 minutes until they are slightly brown on the bottom. Turn them over and bake for another 8-12 minutes until they are crispy. I didn’t turn my second batch, but I would recommend turning them. They bake so much nicer and more evenly.
Let them cool and store them in an airtight container. Mine have been in the pantry for a couple of weeks and they are still great. I cut them pretty tiny so I ended up having a lot. If you don’t think you can finish them in a week, you can freeze them and thaw them out when you need more.
These crackers are tasty, easy and quick to make, and a super convenient snack when you’re running out of the house. If you want to kick it up a notch, you could always add some seeds, ground flax, or protein rich flours like quinoa or chickpea flour for some added nutrition.
There you have it! Get crackin’!