Our 10 best cream cheese recipes

A dol­lop of cream cheese – that friendly fridge sta­ple – brings silk­i­ness to sweets treats such as flo­ral French toast, while smooth­ing the savouri­ness of baked eggs and onions

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page -

1 STRAW­BERRY FRENCH TOAST (ON THE COVER)

A con­tem­po­rary take on a 17th-cen­tury fave – poor knights of Wind­sor – this is straw­berry eggy bread with rose­wa­ter, sugar and but­ter. Rose­wa­ter com­ple­ments straw­ber­ries per­fectly – just be care­ful not to use too much or your break­fast will taste like a scented can­dle. Bread that has a fine crumb works best here, so use some ba­sic sliced white. A good brioche loaf or panet­tone would also make a fine sub­sti­tute.

Serves 4

200g straw­ber­ries, plus ex­tra for gar­nish­ing

1 tsp rose­wa­ter

300g cream cheese

6 tbsp straw­berry jam

8 thick slices of white bread

2 eggs

250ml milk

50g but­ter

50g ic­ing sugar, plus ex­tra for dust­ing

1 Hull and slice the straw­ber­ries, then place them in a bowl. Add the rose­wa­ter and mix thor­oughly. Set aside for 2-3 min­utes.

2 Use a spoon to soften the cream cheese in a bowl. Add the rose­wa­ter and straw­ber­ries. Mix un­til you have a pas­tel pink colour.

3 Spread the jam on the slices of bread. Then divide the cream cheese mix­ture across 4 of the slices, leav­ing a 10mm bor­der. Put an­other slice on top of each and gen­tly press around the edges.

4 Whisk the eggs and milk to­gether in a shal­low bowl and place each straw­berry sand­wich in the mix for about 20 sec­onds on each side.

5 Melt the but­ter in a fry­ing pan on a medi­umhigh heat. Fry each sand­wich for about 4-5 min­utes per side, or un­til golden brown. Serve with a dust­ing of ic­ing sugar and some ex­tra sliced straw­ber­ries. Michael Zee, instagram.com/sym­me­try­break­fast

2 WILD GAR­LIC LEAVES STUFFED WITH CREAM CHEESE

This recipe pre­serves the taste of spring, with the cream cheese tak­ing on the com­plex flavours of the oil. Keep any left­over oil for salad dress­ings and ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent herb and spice com­bi­na­tions.

Makes around 500ml

240g cream cheese

4 tsp sumac

4 tsp ground cumin

4 tsp pa­prika Salt and black pep­per

35g medium-large wild gar­lic leaves, rinsed and dried (about 50 leaves)

½ red chilli, sliced down the mid­dle

1 gar­lic clove, crushed

4 pep­per­corns

200ml olive oil

1 Whip the cream cheese and spices to­gether with a fork. Add salt and pep­per to taste.

2 Place a wild gar­lic leaf glossy-side down on your chop­ping board. Put about ½ tsp of the cream cheese on the thick­est part at the bot­tom of the leaf. Roll the leaf up. Dab a lit­tle cheese on the pointy end to help the roll stick to­gether. Put in a ster­ilised jar.

3 Re­peat un­til the jar is full. Add the halved chilli to the jar where it can be seen. Add the gar­lic clove and pep­per­corns. Cover the con­tents of the jar in olive oil.

4 Store in the re­frig­er­a­tor for a week be­fore us­ing and bring the rolls up to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore serv­ing. Con­cepta Cassar, purepab­u­lum.word­press.com

3 PEA, BASIL AND MINT SOUF­FLE

The dou­ble cream and cream cheese make this sfor­mata , or Ital­ian-style souf­fle, denser and richer than its French

coun­ter­part. It’s in­cred­i­bly quick to as­sem­ble, mak­ing it the ideal lunch or late supper. Try sub­sti­tut­ing the peas for spinach, cau­li­flower or broc­coli – any veg goes. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 4-6

1 tbsp but­ter

110g parme­san, grated, plus ex­tra to fin­ish

500g peas (frozen or freshly pod­ded)

4 large eggs, sep­a­rated

360g cream cheese

75ml dou­ble cream

A large hand­ful of mint leaves, finely chopped

A large hand­ful of basil leaves, finely chopped

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and grease a 2-litre bak­ing dish with the but­ter. Evenly scat­ter 2 tbsp of the parme­san into the dish and shake around to coat.

2 Bring a pan of salted wa­ter to the boil and blanch the peas for a cou­ple of min­utes un­til just done, then drain and re­turn to the pan. Us­ing a potato masher, crush the peas un­til you have a fairly coarse bright green mush. Sea­son with a lit­tle pep­per.

3 Whisk the egg yolks, cream cheese and cream to­gether un­til smooth, then stir in the re­main­ing parme­san, peas and herbs. Sea­son to taste.

4 In a sep­a­rate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites un­til you have stiff peaks, then fold this into the pea mix­ture un­til it is just in­cor­po­rated. Pour the mix­ture into the bak­ing dish and sprin­kle with a lit­tle ex­tra parme­san cheese. Trans­fer it to the mid­dle of the oven and bake for 30-35 min­utes, or un­til the top is golden but the mid­dle still has a slight wob­ble. Re­move from the oven and leave to cool slightly for a mo­ment. Serve with a green salad. Ge­or­gia Levy and Ben Ben­ton, thek­itchen­co­op­er­a­tive.com

4 BLACK OLIVE AND LEMON PÂTÉ

A fab­u­lous quar­tet of flavours – the rich­ness of the cream cheese is cut through with the acid­ity of lemon and the earthy tang of olives. Serves 4 100g olives, pit­ted 250g cream cheese Juice of 1 lemon Black pep­per

1 Add the pit­ted olives to a blen­der and blend un­til al­most smooth.

2 Trans­fer the olive mix to a fine sieve and sit it over a bowl to drain – around 5 min­utes should do it. How­ever, if your olives were in liq­uid it might take a lit­tle longer.

3 Next, add the cream cheese to a mix­ing bowl with the olives, lemon juice and black pep­per. Care­fully fold to­gether un­til in­cor­po­rated.

4 Place a round pas­try cut­ter in the cen­tre of a serv­ing plate, add the pâté and tamp down. Re­move the ring and serve with some dressed leaves and hot toast.

An­drew Dar­gue, vanil­l­ablack.co.uk

5 BAKED CREAM CHEESE CUSTARD WITH RHUBARB AND CO­CONUT CRUM­BLE

An ex­cel­lent com­bi­na­tion of tastes and tex­tures. The baked cream cheese here can go from per­fect (rich, creme brulee tex­ture) to over­cooked very quickly, so watch it care­fully.

Serves 4

4 egg yolks

150g caster sugar

500g cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla ex­tract

Juice and zest of 1 or­ange

Chopped pis­ta­chios, for sprin­kling

For the crum­ble 4 rhubarb stems, washed, trimmed and sliced di­ag­o­nally into 2.5cm pieces

100g de­mer­ara sugar

100g cold but­ter, cubed

50g caster sugar

50g de­mer­ara sugar

25g des­ic­cated co­conut

40g rolled oats

130g plain flour

1 Pre­heat your oven to 150C/300F/gas mark

2. 2 Beat the egg and sugar to­gether un­til pale and light. Add the cream cheese, vanilla ex­tract and or­ange juice and zest, then beat well un­til ev­ery­thing is in­cor­po­rated.

3 Place four ramekins into a deep bak­ing tray and divide the cream cheese custard be­tween each. Add wa­ter to the bak­ing tray so that it comes up to just be­low the edge of the ramekin. Place the tray in the oven for around 15-17 min­utes, keep­ing a very close eye on them. You want the mix to be just set with a jelly-like wob­ble. If they over­cook you will be left with a slightly grainy dessert.

4 Once cooked, cool to room tem­per­a­ture, re­move from the tray and place in the fridge.

5 Put the rhubarb in a heavy-based pan with the sugar and a lit­tle wa­ter. Cook on a low heat for 10-15 min­utes – you want the rhubarb to re­tain a lit­tle bite and shape. Taste and add a lit­tle more sugar if the rhubarb is still tart. When done, set aside.

6 Com­bine the re­main­ing crum­ble in­gre­di­ents in a bowl and – us­ing clean hands – rub the mix in be­tween your palms un­til a rough crumb forms. Al­ter­na­tively, use a food pro­ces­sor, puls­ing the mix un­til you have rough crumbs. Put the mix on a bak­ing tray and bake for about 20 min­utes, or un­til golden brown. Put to one side to cool.

7 To as­sem­ble, spoon cooked rhubarb on top of each baked cream cheese and sprin­kle lib­er­ally with the co­conut crum­ble. Top with chopped pis­ta­chios for colour and tex­ture.

Alex Bluett, friskafood.com

6 CREAM CHEESE, MUSH­ROOM AND BA­CON STUFFED ONIONS

Onions are won­der­ful ves­sels for a va­ri­ety of stuff­ings. Th­ese are stuffed with cream cheese, mush­rooms and ba­con and baked in cream and parme­san: ir­re­sistibly rich and deeply com­fort­ing.

Makes 8

8 medium onions

A driz­zle of olive oil

A knob of but­ter

75g ba­con or pancetta, chopped

250g chest­nut mush­rooms, finely sliced

1 tsp thyme, finely chopped, plus ex­tra sprigs to serve

1 tsp dried oregano

3 gar­lic cloves, finely chopped

125g cream cheese, beaten

60g parme­san, finely grated, plus ex­tra for scat­ter­ing

50g bread­crumbs

600ml sin­gle cream

A grat­ing of nut­meg, to taste Salt and black pep­per

1 Peel the onions, keep­ing the root in­tact. Boil them in salted wa­ter for 20 min­utes or un­til ten­der. Drain well. Once they are cool enough to han­dle, cut the top 2cm off the onions hor­i­zon­tally. Us­ing a spoon, scoop out the cen­tral part of the onions, mak­ing sure the out­side re­mains in­tact. Chop the parts you have re­moved, then set aside.

2 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Heat a lit­tle olive oil and a knob of but­ter in a fry­ing pan. Fry the chopped ba­con with the mush­rooms, chopped onion, thyme and oregano. Once the ba­con is cooked, add the gar­lic and saute un­til fra­grant.

3 Trans­fer to a bowl and set aside to cool, then add the cream cheese, parme­san and bread­crumbs. Sea­son to taste. Spoon the mix­ture into the onions.

4 Place the onions snugly in a bak­ing dish. Pour over the cream, scat­ter with thyme sprigs and grated nut­meg. Bake for about 35 min­utes, or un­til golden and bub­bling. Scat­ter with parme­san for the last 10 min­utes.

Ravin­der Bho­gal, @cook­in­boots

7 BAR­LEY RISOTTO WITH SPINACH AND CREAM CHEESE

A blend of cream cheese and blue cheese gives unc­tu­os­ity and body to this com­fort­ing bowl­ful.

Serves 2

1 small red onion, peeled and sliced

A small knob of but­ter

250g bar­ley

125ml white wine

300ml veg­etable stock

2 large hand­fuls of fresh spinach

2 tbsp cream cheese

50g blue cheese

Juice and zest of ½ lemon

½ spring onion, very finely sliced (op­tional)

Salt and black pep­per

1 Sweat the onion with the but­ter un­til soft and golden. Add the bar­ley , then stir to coat for a minute.

2 Pour in the white wine and half the stock. With the lid off, turn the heat to high, bring to the boil, then re­duce to a sim­mer. Stir oc­ca­sion­ally and grad­u­ally add the re­main­ing stock as it is ab­sorbed. Cook for 30-40 min­utes or un­til the bar­ley is al dente and the liq­uid has re­duced.

3 Add the spinach to the pan and fold in with

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