Around this time of year, my refrigerator becomes slightly schizophrenic. Whereas I usually have an orderly selection of fresh vegetables in the crisper, one or two cheeses in the cheese box, meat or seafood on the shelves, and other staples (eggs, butter, Sriracha) stockpiled, during the holidays when it’s all about entertaining–whether at home or away–it’s an anything-goes scenario. Which is absolutely exciting and fun and I totally embrace the chaos. Right now in my fridge there is bear fat (yes, the rendered fat of a bear), enough heavy cream to send a calorie counter into shock, grape must jam, homemade crème fraîche, and other random odds and ends: chicken stock, halved lemons, Parm bones (leftover rinds–great for soup!), a pork tenderloin, a pound of sea bass, and gingerbread people piled high with candies and sparkles (courtesy of Julian and his classmates). Also in the mix: a container of leftover creamy chèvre
Creamy chèvre is one of my favorite go-to party toppings. It’s goat cheese whipped with heavy cream and a few pinches of salt. Once that extra fat is whipped in, the tang of the goat cheese is curbed and its mouthfeel enriched by a million degrees. It becomes silky and airy and positively luscious.
I like pairing the spread with slowly caramelized onions, earthy caraway seeds, and olive oil-doused baguette slices that get gently toasted so they’re crunchy on the outside and tender within. A drop of balsamic tweaks the taste of the onion jam ever so slightly, perking up sum total of the toast with its zippy twang. Serve the toasts spread and ready to go or encumber a platter with a pile of plain toasts and place the creamy chèvre and caramelized onions off to the side so people can schmear, dip, and doctor as they like.
Creamy Chèvre, Caraway, and Caramelized Onion Toasts
Makes about 2 dozen toasts
The flavor of earthy caraway seed and the sweetness of caramelized onions works beautifully with a whole wheat baguette. That said, a traditional baguette works just fine.
- 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (or 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary or thyme)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus a few good pinches
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 baguette (preferably whole wheat), thinly sliced on a bias
- Flaky salt
- 4-ounce log of fresh goat’s milk cheese (chèvre)
- 4 to 8 tablespoons heavy cream
- Melt the butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the caraway seeds and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook until the onions are very sticky and dark brown, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. If the onions start to stick or burn at the bottom of the pan, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and stir and scrape up any browned bits into the onion mixture. Once the onions are caramelized, stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Turn off the heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar, and transfer the onions to a small bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the onions and set aside.
- Heat the oven to 375°F. Place the baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet and brush the them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with the flaky salt and toast in the oven just until the edges are browned and crisp and the top of the bread slices is dry but still gives to light pressure, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, then transfer to a platter.
- Place the chèvre in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low speed to break it up. Add 4 tablespoons of the heavy cream and a few pinches of salt and beat. If the mixture is still pasty and thick, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating between each addition, until the mixture is airy and light. Spread some of the caramelized onions on top of each cooled toast. Top with the chèvre cream and serve.