Back when my husband and I were first married, we went on lots of picnics. I guess that’s what you do before kids, which reminds me that now that they’re grown and gone, we should be picnicking again!
In any case, I used to buy a particular chocolate Neufchâtel cheese, and paired it with strawberries and water crackers. In my memory, at least, it’s something I always packed up for our adventures, for something sweet.
Then there came a time when we really couldn’t afford this cheese any more. That’s when I had a light bulb moment. I can make it myself, just like I created home-made Boursin!
I actually made this cheese a lot when I catered, but I haven’t made it for years now. I’d just completely forgotten about it until something jogged my memory recently. It’s funny how a memory works!
The reason this cheese worked well for catering is that it’s inexpensive to make, slightly sweet, and very pretty. There were always those clients who wanted a full hors d’oeuvres spread for $5. a person…
I sometimes also made an additional strawberry Neufchâtel as well, which was pretty sitting next to her chocolate sister. But these cheeses I used to make, and am making again today, are made with cream cheese instead of Neufchâtel. The good old American variety.
I just googled chocolate Neufchâtel and I found nothing. Perhaps I was the only person eating it? Well, fortunately you can duplicate its flavor in your own kitchen, using this recipe, which can be doubled or tripled.
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 ounce unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
Gently stir in the ingredients until the cream cheese mixture is smooth.
Place the cheese in a plastic wrap-lined bowl that fits it snuggly, and provides the shape of the cheese that you want. Add the cheese, smoothing the top. You might want to give the bowl a few hard taps on a cutting board to make sure that there are no air holes.
Cover well with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Before serving, unmold the cheese by turning the bowl upside down onto a serving platter. Carefully remove the plastic wrap. Let the cheese sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving. You want it nice and spreadable!
I served mine with fresh strawberries and water crackers, just like in the old days!
This is enough cheese to serve 4-6 people. And it cost less than $2.00 to make.
note: If you want to make the strawberry version, you have two choices. First, mix the softened cream cheese with a fresh strawberry puree; it can even be swirled for a prettier presentation. Secondly, use a high-quality strawberry jam. Just taste as you go. For me personally, these aren’t supposed to be overly sweet cheeses, since they’re typically (for me) part of an hors d’oeuvres spread.