No need to choose between sweet and savory; this spread combines the best of both worlds. I served it with crackers for events the last couple of weekends, and I think it bridged the gap well. And even better–it’s easy to make and can be done ahead of time.
Here’s what it involves:
- 3 packages of cream cheese (8 oz.)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (or less)
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder (to taste)
- dash of salt
- 1 cup walnuts (chopped)
- 1 cup dates (chopped)
- honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup
Let cream cheese soften on the counter for a bit before you begin. Once it is manageable, put it in a bowl and use a spatula to mix in the brown sugar, chili powder, and salt. At this point you’re faced with a decision: two cheese balls or one log? This past weekend I went the log route to save table space.
For a log:
Spoon the cream cheese (roughly in a log shape) onto some plastic wrap. Roll it up in the plastic wrap, and then whack it on the counter and spin it around by holding the ends of the the wrap until you get the most uniform shape possible….like you’re making a sausage. Chill it in the refrigerator. When it’s ready, roll out of the plastic wrap onto your plate (or garnish first while it’s still on the wrap for a cleaner look)
For cheese balls:
Starting with spoons dipped in warm water and finishing with very clean hands, shape into two balls. Put each one on a plate or on a bit of plastic wrap before garnishing.
Evenly pack the chopped dates and walnuts on the sides and top of the cream cheese mixture, plate it, and lightly drizzle honey or a natural syrup on top.