A sweet snack or a staple pantry ingredient for your favorite pie crust. Graham Crackers are sweet brown biscuits that are either honey or cinnamon flavored. This is popularly used as a crust for pies, layering for desserts, or made into mini easy-to-do sweet treats. Find out more about the interesting story behind this crusty cracker.
The origin of graham crackers can be traced back to Sylvester Graham, a clergyman who was a staunch advocate for various health principles. Graham promoted abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and he championed a vegetarian diet. His vision of a healthy lifestyle was inspired by the dietary habits of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, emphasizing the consumption of predominantly plant-based foods. In addition to his vegetarian advocacy, Graham played a role in the temperance movement, asserting that meat and wine could increase sexual drive. His overall mission was to encourage a wholesome diet and lifestyle. As part of his efforts to encourage healthy living, Graham popularized the use of coarse ground wheat flour, ultimately leading to the creation of the graham cracker in 1829.
Graham Crackers in the culinary world
While the original recipe consisted of only whole wheat flour and water, modern versions include ingredients like sugar, shortening, salt, honey, and more. Notable brands like Nabisco offer Honey Maid graham crackers in America, and M.Y.San produces Graham crackers in the Philippines. Typically rectangular in shape, these crackers are perfect for classic treats like the essential campfire delight, s’mores, and the delightful summer treat, ice cream sandwiches. Additionally, these biscuits can be bought in crumb form, making them perfect for constructing dessert crusts for no-bake delights like the timeless cheesecake or the delectable banoffee pie.
Note that the sweet biscuits are typically made from whole wheat or refined flour, which means that these are not gluten-free.
Graham Crackers alternative:
If you’re looking for a substitute for this cracker here are some options
- Ladyfinger or “broas” in Filipino make a great alternative for cakes like the Filipino icebox cake, though they are softer and soak up more liquid.
- Oreos can be a good substitute, either as cookies or crumbs, providing a sweeter and chocolatey taste for desserts. You can keep the cream in the cookies for a more indulgent s’more or throw your Oreo cookies in the food processor to use the crumbs for your pie crusts. For those with gluten sensitivity, this also comes in gluten-free versions
- Biscoff offers a sweeter alternative taste, adding more sweetness to your dessert, but its crumbly texture makes it less sturdy.
- Digestive biscuits can replace Graham crackers for s’mores or crushed to create a base for pies.
In the Philippines
The pantry staple is an essential ingredient to the beloved Filipino icebox cake, also known as the mango graham refrigerator cake. This refreshing dessert involves layering all-purpose cream, condensed milk, crushed Grahams, and mango slices overnight. Creamy and refreshing, this Filipino icebox cake is a favorite for all occasions, especially during hot weather. Moreover, graham cracker crumbs can be transformed into delightful graham balls. These sweet and chewy treats, made with crushed graham crackers and condensed milk, feature a soft marshmallow center and a colorful sprinkle coating. The versatility of graham crackers lends itself to a wide range of creative and delicious desserts.
A sheet of Graham crackers contains approximately 60 calories, although this varies among manufacturers. The calorie, fat, and fiber content is low. However, compared to the original recipe, modern versions contain refined sugar, honey, cinnamon, and other ingredients, contributing to higher sugar content. It’s essential to avoid consuming large amounts.
Are Graham Crackers Gluten-Free?
No, Graham crackers are typically made from whole wheat or refined flour, sugar, oil, salt, honey, cinnamon, and more. Generally, wheat flour is not gluten-free.