This spicy cranberry goat cheese log is a fresh twist on a cheese ball and a perfect appetizer for the holidays. The sweetness of the cranberries and cinnamon brings just the right balance to the spiciness of the ginger and the creamy tang of the goat cheese.
If you’re pressed for time and who isn’t, especially this time of the year, you’ll be pleased to know that this appetizer comes together in a matter of minutes and also it can be made a couple of days ahead and refrigerated. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.
Fresh Market featured a similar spicy cranberry goat cheese log in their special holiday cheese this year and it was that log that inspired this recipe. I brought one home to taste and quickly realized that I could make my own with good success. If there is a secret to this cheese log it's the candied ginger. You might think it would be very sweet, but take a bite and all of a sudden you'll get a big burst of spiceness. To me, it's that burst of spice that sets this recipe apart from other cheese logs.
There’s plenty of room for personalization with this recipe – pistachios or pecans could be used instead of walnuts, substitute dried cherries for the dried cranberries, and if you’re not a goat cheese lover as I am, cream cheese would work, but it won’t be as tangy as if you used goat cheese and will change the recipe entirely. I’ve served this with table water crackers, which are a very neutral tasting cracker. I believe stronger flavored crackers such as Triscuits would overpower the log, but apple or pear slices make a nice companion. We chose to serve a red wine with this, such as Merlot, but a glass of bubbly would be splendid as well.
Spicy Cranberry Goat Cheese Log
My Carolina Kitchen, Sam Hoffer, serves 3 – 4
3 heaping tablespoons dried sweet cranberries
3 heaping tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts, pecans, or pistachios
3 heaping tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
3 heaping tablespoons sliced almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 – 4 ounce soft goat cheese/chèvre log, preferably made in France
White table water crackers such as Carr’s or similar thin, crunchy white crackers
Slices of apples or pears, optional
In a small food processor, grind/chop all of the ingredients except the goat cheese until well blended with no big lumps. Have a little taste and adjust accordingly. Spread on a plate and roll the goat cheese log in the mixture to cover the sides, patting it in with your hands if it doesn’t adhere properly, leaving the ends uncovered. Serve with table water crackers or similar thin crackers and/or slices of apples or pears.
The goat cheese log can be made a couple of days in advance and refrigerated, covered, until serving. You may have some of the topping left over. If so, you can sprinkle some around the cheese log.
Cook’s notes: Dental floss does an amazing job of slicing soft cheeses such as goat cheese. A mild, neutral tasting cracker is a nice companion for the goat cheese log so it doesn’t overpowering the other flavors. Can be made ahead and refrigerated, but be sure to return it to room temperature before serving.