Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins
This recipe is basically a deconstructed cheese ball. The success of this simple spread depends on the quality of the cheese you use—the older and more velvety it is, the more distinctive the spread will be. Before beginning, make sure that the cheese is at room temperature and the butter a touch colder. It should have the consistency of putty, not rock-hard but firmer than mayonnaise—what a French chef would call beurre pommade. This can be served with bread, but I think it’s actually best with crackers. Original recipe from Amy Thielen's The New Midwestern Table: http://bit.ly/15BfWIf
- 1⁄2 cup port wine
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 7 ounces aged cheddar cheese
- 6 tablespoons salted butter, cool but not cold
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1⁄3 cup walnut halves, toasted
- To make the port syrup, combine the port and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer gently until reduced to a light syrup (it will start to throw bigger bubbles and should be the consistency of maple syrup), about 3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
- Break the cheddar cheese into chunks and drop them into a food processor. Process until pureed. Add the butter, mustard, black pepper, and cayenne and process, stopping often to scrape down the sides, until whipped and smooth.
- Transfer the cheese to a shallow dish, break up the walnut halves and drop them on top, and drizzle with the port syrup.
- Note: The pounded cheese can be made a few hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Or it can be made the day before and kept in the refrigerator; just be sure to bring it back to room temperature before garnishing with the port syrup and nuts.