Spreadable cheese—is there any other food that can so easily and deliciously transform a cracker or slice of bread into a delectable treat? While any soft ripened cheese fits the description (think brie or Camembert), cheeses packaged as spreadable, often in small tubs or crocks, are in a class of their own.
If you're making a shopping list for a celebration, cheese spread is one item you'll want to highlight! On second thought, make it several items. There are so many cheese spreads available and in so many different flavors, you'll want to try at least a handful.
Spreadable cheeses include myriad possibilities, from cheddar with bacon or pimientos, to blue cheese with toasted walnuts, or soft fresh goat cheese with sun-dried tomato or lemon zest and herbs. Depending on the type of cheese used and the seasonings, spreadable cheeses can be mild or pungent.
Cream cheese, the most popular of the spreadables, has been around since at least the 1600s in France. The first American cream cheese was made in New York in 1872. Cream cheese must contain 33 percent milk fat, while Neufchatel cheese—although very similar in taste and texture—is lower in fat than cream cheese.
Spreadable cheeses and crackers go hand in hand. But they're also perfect for baguette slices and hearty rye, as well as for dipping crisp vegetables or crunchy slices of apple or pear. A bowl of olives, smoked almonds or dried fruits is a great complement to spreadable cheeses, too. This Brie with Orange Preserves and Almonds is a simple and pleasing example of an easy-to-prepare party appetizer.
Try a new spreadable cheese on your morning toast or bagel to welcome the day with style. Or use an array of them to top garlic bread and burgers, and spread them on flatbread before adding toppings or rolling along with sandwich fillings. Use a variety of spreadable cheeses in mashed potatoes and crab rangoons, and to top baked potatoes and stuff tomatoes. Serve them as a dip or topping for fruit, sweetened with honey, if you like.
Experiment with other flavorful spreadable cheeses in place of the cream cheese in just about any recipe. These Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers would be a great place to start. Or try a fruit-flavored spreadable cheese in a Danish or cheesecake.
You might also like to make your own spreadable cheese. Start with a soft plain cheese like cream cheese or Neufchatel, and add your favorite flavors, like sun-dried tomatoes, chopped smoked salmon or horseradish and bacon.
Store spreadable cheeses covered, in their containers. Spreadable cheeses will keep in the refrigerator for five to seven days and in the freezer for four to six months. Freezing may make the cheese more crumbly and less spreadable, though.