I know some people get excited come pumpkin spice season, but I get more excited when cranberries arrive in stores. Some seasons, I start using them in recipes before Halloween and don’t stop until after Christmas. Keyed-up Cranberry Spread honors another fruit I get excited about: Key Lime. I suppose nothing can beat a Key Lime pie in bringing out the best of these tiny, tangy citrus fruits (although I’m pretty excited about a recent Key Lime cake recipe I concocted that creates a satisfying flavor with a different mouth feel for those tiny, tangy citrus fruits). Nonetheless, there is something magical about combining cranberries and Key Lime. If you have a decent blender, or food processor, or even one of those manual choppers, it’s not too difficult to make.
Honey cuts the slight bitterness of fresh cranberries, lime adds a little zing, onion adds a little savory, and jalapeño adds a little heat. (Leave out the onion, and it makes a nice additive to smoothies!) The cranberry mix is almost like a chutney. It’s not crunchy, but it’s crisp and flavorful. Enter the bulk of the dish: a delightful Key Lime and cream cheese blend that beautifully complements the cranberry mixture. It’s whipped light enough for a dip but sturdy enough for a spread. The bright red berries also create a festive presentation, whether you’re doing something for a holiday gathering or just because. You can pile on the cranberries or reserve some for another batch or for another dish. If you go heavy on the cranberries, you might need to add more sweetener to the mixture to balance the flavor. Cranberries can tend toward bitter and you’ll want to cut that effectively.
I’ve used this dish for intimate birthday parties and for holiday-time hors d’oeuvres. A neutral cracker works best with this savory-sweet concoction, but it can handle crackers with either a slight savory or sweet taste. My favorites are wheat thins, animal cookies, and homemade tea cakes or sugar cookies (I flavor my tea cakes / sugar cookies sometimes to veer them sweet or savory). I’ve never tried it, but I’m curious how a sturdy corn chip would work. I think it might be delicious!
Keyed Up Cranberry Spread is not vegan, but it is vegetarian. No salt is added, but watch the sodium in your cream cheese and yogurt to determine content. It sits somewhere between sweet and savory, and you can always adjust to either side according to taste. Grab some fresh cranberries and give it a try at your next gathering.
12 oz fresh cranberries
1/4 to 1/2 jalapeño pepper
3-4 green onions
1 TBSP lime juice
1 tsp honey
6 oz package cream cheese
5.3 oz container Chobani brand key lime greek yogurt
1 tsp honey (or other sweetener)
Optional: cilantro leaves for garnish
Prep time: about 15 minutes
Yields: about 1 3/4 cups
Set cream cheese out to soften.
Rinse cranberries, pepper and green onion.
Finely mince cranberries, jalapeño and onion by hand (with a chopper), in blender, or in food processor. Place in bowl, add lime juice and 1 tsp honey and mix well.
In another bowl, whip cream cheese, yogurt and 1 tsp honey. Add 2 TBSP cranberry mix and blend by hand.
Place cheese mix into a shallow serving bowl and top with cranberry mix.
Serve as a spread for crackers, bagels, or sandwiches, or as a dip for fruits and vegetables. Looks great on a charcuterie board.