(Cheese) Spread 'Em.
February 15, 2010 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Give me your best, sharpest, most fabulous cheddar cheese spread!

I've been on a lifetime search for the most luscious, tastiest, addictive cheese spread, and although some have come close, none have quite met the mark. My current favorite is Black Diamond, but it isn't quite perfect. I have fond childhood memories of a Kraft product, perhaps called Cracker Barrel, that came in a triangular red package, but haven't been able to find it any more.

The Tillamook sharp cheddar spread is good, also, but I can't find it locally anymore. Kaukauna is a pale imitation-not sharp enough, and too plastic/processed.

I've tried several recipes but none have really worked.

Please lay on your favorites (bonus if available online or on the West coast of the US) or your tried and true recipes.
posted by purenitrous to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Beer cheese is pretty common here in KY, and this recipe looks pretty basic.
posted by dilettante at 10:22 AM on February 15, 2010

I have fond childhood memories of a Kraft product, perhaps called Cracker Barrel, that came in a triangular red package, but haven't been able to find it any more.

Are you talking about this Cracker Barrel cheese?

And I second the idea of beer cheese. Mine is:
shredded sharp Cracker Barrel
a small packet of light cream cheese
a bottle of your favorite beer, stale
some tarragon vinegar
dry mustard
and a little garlic powder
mashed in a blender until it's thick (doesn't drip off a cracker) and tastes like heaven. Best served on Wheat Thins.

Whatever you do, don't buy the prepared "Pub Cheese" at Trader Joe's. I thought it was disgusting.
posted by sallybrown at 10:34 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh and cover the beer cheese and let it chill out in the fridge overnight before serving.
posted by sallybrown at 10:36 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, sallybrown-no, the cracker barrel I'm talking about was a spread. And I agree, the Pub Cheese at TJ's was very disappointing.

I've made Beer Cheese once but was disappointed; maybe I'll give these recipes a try.
posted by purenitrous at 10:50 AM on February 15, 2010

I know what you're talking about! My mom used to buy Cracker Barrel Cheese - Extra Sharp and you can buy it from this online store.
posted by citystalk at 10:57 AM on February 15, 2010

oh, on preview never mind. :)
posted by citystalk at 10:58 AM on February 15, 2010

Flavor-wise, I find the Medium Tillamook Cheddar is FAR superior to the Sharp or Extra Sharp - I recommend you try it. Seems counter-intuitive, I know, but trust me here.

Also, the Medium melts the better than anything else out there. I'm sure it would make a superior Cheese Spread.

This recipe seems pretty basic - it's just shredded cheese + white wine (beer?)+ a little butter to get the whole thing smooth. Then experiment and add seasonings - fun & yum!

FWIW - the tarragon vinegar in the above recipe, although delicious (!) doesn't sound exactly like it's in the flavor profile you are keen for. You're seeking to replicate the flavor of a commercial brand, yes? That's a fairly simple seasonings+salty flavor profile. Additionally, commercial brands have a slight chemical after-taste you will not be able to re-create at home.

If'n I were you, I'd make one big batch of the basic recipe. Parcel that out into little bowls.... one bowl would get some garlic powder, one would get parsley, one tarragon, one hot sauce, one extra salt... etc., and into infinity!

In the end, you will create your own favorite recipe. Take notes so you can remember what combos you prefer.

Bon Appetit.

(PS - Where are you on the West Coast that you can no longer find Tillamook??)
posted by jbenben at 11:04 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm in Oregon, oddly enough. And sorry if I was confusing; Tillamook cheese is obviously very easy to find here (we normally get the extra aged white cheddar); it's the spread that I can't find in local stores.
posted by purenitrous at 11:06 AM on February 15, 2010

Honestly, I think Merkts Sharp Cheddar is the best commercial spread out there. It's sharper and tangier than Kaukauna. Couldn't find any availability in 970XX zipcode. :-(
posted by applemeat at 11:14 AM on February 15, 2010

I just did a major google and I can not find the cheese spread you were seeking. Can not find! Do you have a link so I can at least see the product? I was hoping to read the ingredients list so I can find you a home recipe to match it.

Do try the Medium Tillamook in any recipe you attempt. I find it "sharper" and more "cheddar-y" than the other varieties. I now use the Medium exclusively for catering. It's more delicious!

I found this recipe that uses mayonnaise instead of butter to get the smooth happening. I bet using mayo is much closer to a commercial recipe. Obviously, only Best Foods/Hellman's should be used, a tangier brand of mayo might throw off the taste too much.

Maybe substitute mayo for butter when you make basic batch of spread?

I'm looking forward to reading that ingredients label, too! Please help me find a link.


ps - sorry about the typos in the first post. arrgh.
posted by jbenben at 11:21 AM on February 15, 2010

The Merkts looks good!

I perused the ingredients list. It's basically cheddar+a little water+cream+salt.

OP, you could easily make the spread recipe w/ just shredded cheese, cream, and salt. You could go that simple.

I think a pinch of mustard powder and a pinch of garlic powder might be good basic seasonings to start out with. Maybe a little cayenne or hot sauce. Try sea salt instead of table salt.

I think you must have a basic idea now.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 11:36 AM on February 15, 2010

If you're looking to make your own cheese spread, don't buy premade. And don't use only one type of cheese. Alton Brown's Fromage Fort is one of my faves because it allows me to clean my fridge out of all the random small lumps of cheese that get left over, and it's delicious to boot. The more varied the types of cheeses you use, the better.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:46 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

You should try Imperial Cheese if you can get a hold of it. It's very sharp and pungent fragrant.
posted by Evstar at 1:41 PM on February 15, 2010

Have you ever tried one of those port wine cheese balls in the fancy cheese section? Typically encrusted in chopped nuts? I love that stuff on crackers. It's always so tangy and just makes my salivary glands squirt. I haven't had it for long enough that I forget the brands and which is better, but it's a possible line of investigation.
posted by Askr at 1:56 PM on February 15, 2010

I grew up eating Merkt's in Wisconsin, and it's pretty delicious. Don't think I ever had a better spreadable cheese anywhere else. Their sharp cheddar is very sharp. And the swiss almond is really fantastic. According to their website, their products are now being carried by Walmart nationwide, and you can fill out a form to request distribution. I can't believe there's not a way to order it online, though.
posted by amusebuche at 3:30 PM on February 15, 2010

If you lived in the midwest (southwest Michigan, to be precise), you could find Win Schulers Bar Cheese, a wonderfully sharp cheese spread that makes everything better. It cures bunions, apoplexy, doubt, and has even been known to cause spontaneous outbreaks of world peace.*

Luckily for you, they seem to have expanded, and while it's not available in Oregon stores, evidently you can order it by mail! Make sure to get some rye chips to go with it, or spread it on a kaiser roll with corned beef or roast beef (personal preference).

*Possible exageration. Offer may not be valid in all fifty states. Ghidorah may be delusional with longing for a cheese spread from his childhood, one which, living in Japan, he is SOL in regards to finding.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:44 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

My new absolute favorite cheddar dip and sooooooooooooooooooo easy!
mix one cup mayo (I use "light mao), one cup grated carrots (easy to grate in food processor), and one cup shredded cheese of your choice (I use low fat). Put in oven-proof dish you would like to also serve in. bake at 350 until slightly brown on top, maybe 30 mins? serve hot (but eating leftovers cold next day is great too. If you double this recipe, do not double mayo, eyeball the amount of mayo, but maybe just 1-1/4 cup? to 2 cups carrots and 2 cups cheese. It is always a hit. No one realizes there are carrots in it, they blend in with the cheese
posted by Lylo at 11:42 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

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