The holidays are a never-ending source of culinary exasperation and inspiration. Exasperation as you try vainly to make forty bajillion recipes for holiday parties and holiday dinners. Inspiration from the recipes everyone else is pinning and new delights at old favorites.
In this case, the inspiration came from a visit to one of my favorite breakfast spots: Panera. I’m a total sucker for a whole grain bagel, sliced, toasted, and served with a fruity cream cheese. So when I went in one workday morning just before Christmas and discovered that they had a new orange cranberry cream cheese, I had to try it.
It became my favorite thing, just in time for them to take it off the menu in favor of wild blueberry cream cheese post the holidays. Which left me scrambling wildly to find a substitute I could make myself.
The texture of this is just a little bit off — it’s more liquidy than the Panera version — but the taste is so good that I have a hard time caring. You can pop it on a bagel or serve it as a dip with graham cracker sticks or nilla wafers. I even bet it would make a killer breakfast grilled cheese sandwich, although I haven’t tried that yet. And it’s not difficult or expensive to make.
Orange Cranberry Cream Cheese (modified from Mississippi Kitchen‘s Cranberry-Orange Butter recipe)
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 c whole berry cranberry sauce
2 Tbsp orange marmalade
Bring your cream cheese to room temperature. Mix it on medium-high for five minutes in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until it gets a nice, whipped texture. Then add in the cranberry sauce and marmalade and beat to combine.
Bam! You’re ready to rock and roll with a bagel or whatever floats your boat.