Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Cheese of Space and Time: Cranberry-Orange Spread

A long time ago, I lived in Lincolnville, Kansas, where I taught at Centre High School. I loved living there, but it had a few drawbacks:
  1. Livestock outnumbered young, single females.
  2. On the few occasions I shopped at the local liquor store, I felt like the entire community had me under surveillance.
  3. The few businesses in town closed at 8:00 or earlier in the evening, so if I needed to purchase anything essential, I had to drive 45 miles to the nearest store.

The last fact challenged this food-loving soul. If I developed a craving during the night, I just had to go to bed and sleep through it. This often resulted in Daliesque* dreams comprised of melting cheese and phallic vegetables. Hunger-induced dreams aren't pretty.

One time sleep couldn't stifle a 1:00 a.m., chocolate craving. My bachelor cupboards were bare, except for a box of brownie mix, so I mixed it up - minus the eggs - and ate the batter with a spoon. It's best to draw the shades if you indulge in such culinary perversions.

Last night when I scraped the mixing bowl and sampled a cranberry-orange spread I had just prepared, I thought about my desperate attempt to satiate my craving so long ago. For a brief second, I felt the need to be absolved of this culinary sin. This feeling quickly passed and I mustered the gumption to polish off the mixture of cream cheese, butter, and sugar remaining in the bowl.

Here's the recipe for the Cranberry Orange Spread adapted from Carole Walter's Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More, which contains a whole chapter full of recipes for spreads, glazes, icing, and streusels.

Cranberry Orange Spread

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur
  • 6 tablespoons dried cranberries plumped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • pinch of salt

  1. Combine the orange juice and orange liqueur in a small saucepan. Warm liquid over low heat, then add cranberries. Allow them to steep for 5 minutes. Drain the cranberries and pat them dry with paper towels.
  2. Place the cranberries in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add the butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, zest, and salt. Process until everything is combined. Remove the mixture and place in a small bowl. Refrigerate
  4. When you're ready to use the spread, allow it to soften before serving.

**As many of you know, artist Salvador Dali's most famous work is The Persistence of Memory. After reading The History of Modern Art by H. H. Arnason, I learned that Dali painted this work one night after dinner, when, after all the guests were gone, he contemplated the leftover Camembert cheese melting on the table. According to Dali the painting is "nothing more than the soft, extravagant, solitary, paranoiac-critical Camembert cheese of space and time." I don't know what the hell that means, but when you're Salvador Dali, you can spout such gibberish and it's cool. Here's what I do know:

Once again, food is more than food; it has the power to inspire legendary artists.

lick the bowl clean,


Heather said...

That's a tasty-looking spread. I bet it'd be great on bagels, too. I used to mix strawberry jam with cream cheese to eat on bagels, and I miss that flavor.

steve O' said...

Speaking of cranberry...

From a hundred-year-old New York Times:

My favorite part of Thanksgiving:

Marilyn said...

Oh, that's soooo delicious. I'd eat the whole bowl armed with nothing but a spoon and weak willpower.

So glad Carole is working out for you!