Cream cheese is the top choice spread for bagels. It is a great way to add, energy and nutritional value to the bagel. And I am not joking; bagels contain a substantial number of carbohydrates, fiber and some vitamins, but they lack in fat and protein. Cream cheese can full-fill both aspects and on top add the calcium. So it is in deed highly nutritious. The cream cheese is not really a cheese as it has more common with the yogurt, than the cheese we all know. According to the USA FDA it should have 33% at least milk fat, up to 55% water and acidic pH 4.4 to 4.9. It is not naturally maturing (aging) similarly to yogurt. It is different than yogurt though since it utilizes salt as flavoring where yogurt does not. According to Kraft, the first American creme cheese was made in 1872 by William Lawrence, and I say american since similar types of cheeses were made in various part of the world.
Since I am following a seasonal recipe I will infuse the spread with some extra spice that reminds me of christmas. Pumpkin spice. The cinammon-ginger-all spice-glove-nutmeg combo that screams Christmas!!! All though I am always for home made brues whenever possible this one is the one I buy whole. Although the ingredients are simple, the ratio is very tricky, especially when it comes to ginger and clove that are both extremely strong. There are ratios in the internet ranging anywhere form 1:1 of all the ingredients to 90% cinnamon and very small addition of ginger. I found one that comes already made and I like it, so I am sticking to it. But go out and look fro what you like and adjust it to your taste. So for this recipe we need:
- 2 fat free cream cheese packages. (yes fat free more on that later)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice mix
So before we continue I need to wipe this surprise expression off your face. I am using fat free for a very good reason. As a cheese based spread, it has to be preserved in the refrigerator. However the high fat content, will result in a tough structure not very easy spreadable. Fat free lacking the fat, will never harden as the regular resulting in a creamy reach spread. So the fat free it is not a calorie thing. It is a texture thing so I am excused. The calorie reduction is welcome benefit. Alternative, you can use regular cream cheese, with 1/2 cup of cream. That would light up the texture but will add a whole lot of calories. Let the cheese stand on the counter for 3-4 hours to soften up.
Put the cheese in a metal bowl. Yes metal is important. Plastic can make it hard to get the smell of it. Glass works fine.
Hit with a hand mixer on high for 1-2 minutes or until it lightens up and becomes softer. That will allow better incorporation of the other ingredients.
Add the sugar and beat on high for 2-3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved, meaning you cannot see it anymore.
Occasionally scrape down the sides.
Add the maple syrup and beat it again. Being liquid will be instantly incorporated and will further lighten up the cheese cake.
Now add the spice mix.
Use a spatula to fold it in before you beat it. If not the cinnamon will fly all over the place. it will be a mess. A quite nice mess…
A few beats later it is done. Leave in the refrigerator for an hour or two to firm up and the flavors mellow together.
Yeah I know who is going to clean this!!! Don ‘t worry I will do it!
Just a final word of “wisdom”. Although it might seem a bit off sweet, remember it is a cheese cream spread, not a sweet spread. Off course, this is the basic. From here on sky is the limit, raisins, cranberries, everything will look good in it. Enjoy it.