Life in a Northern Town

Sassy, Sweet & Spicy Goat Cheese Gratin

Remember that classic, old school appetizer with red pepper jelly, a hunk of cream cheese and Ritz crackers? It had all the right components but was seriously deficient in the aesthetic department. It's pretty hard to dress up a rectangular piece of cream cheese swimming in jelly but what it lacked in good looks, it more than made up in seriously good taste. The Sassy Nanny version is a little fussier, a little snappier and a whole lot prettier but it pays homage to its down home relative with that winning combination of sweet, spicy and creamy. It's a quick and dirty appetizer (perfect for the Holiday entertaining that's upon us), looks festive with the peppadews and jalapeno and is a crowd pleaser. Pretty good use of goat cheese, apricot jelly and some pickled peppers, if you ask me.

Sassy, Sweet & Spicy Goat Cheese Gratin

8 ounces Sassy Nanny goat cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 peppadew peppers, (you can substitute any sweet hot pickled pepper if you can't find peppadews)
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup jalapeño slices, chopped (adjust accordingly if you like it spicier or milder)
2 tbsp. shallot, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dry sherry
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the goat cheese, cream cheese, garlic and salt until thoroughly combined. Roughly chop 4 peppadew peppers and fold them into the cream cheese/goat cheese mixture. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the apricot preserves, 6 chopped peppadew peppers, chopped jalapeno, shallots, sherry and mustard and mix until combined. Place the cheese mixture in an oven safe bowl and spread the apricot/pepper spread evenly over the top. Place the dip in the oven and cook for 5- 7 minutes. Turn on the broiler and cook until the top is bubbling, about another 3 - 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve hot with crackers or sliced baguette.