Yanno what’s happening now? Octoberfest. A celebration that I usually don’t think about much, or when I do I think about it until too late. I think that’s because it’s not in October, at least most of it isn’t. Octoberfest runs from mid to late September until the first Sunday in October. And so every year after Octoberfest passes, I think “Wow” I should have made something special to honor the German heritage that comes down from my Grandpa Herman. This year, I did. I made Obatzda – Bavarian Cheese Spread.
Many people came to the midwest from Germany back in the 1880s to 1890s as my Grandpa’s family did, and the food and culture, still today reflects a lot of that heritage. Not in a Beer and Lederhosen kind of way, but in some of the basic recipes and flavors you’ll find all over the Midwest. Things like potato salad, meatloaf, ham loaf, sausages and brats, chicken and dumplings and lots of old recipes. A lot of downhome cooking we just think of as “American” has roots in Germany.
About Obatzda – Bavarian Cheese Spread:
But this particular recipe, Obatzda, probably wasn’t a part of that shared heritage, at least around the area I lived in; It’s said to have been made as a way to use up old cheese, like Romadur or Camembert, something that really wasn’t available in the small rural towns around where I grew up in Northwest Iowa. But it’s available today and we don’t have to settle on some old, stinky, moldy cheese – we can just go to the & get some; no need to put on our Lederhosen or hitch up the wagon, either!
But it is a shame that I didn’t know about Obatzda – Bavarian Cheese Spread sooner. It’s kind of the bomb. It’s a mix up of cheese, butter and beer along with a few spices, some onion if you want (and you will want it, it adds so much) and then it’s served, preferably on a wooden board, with pretzels, bread, crackers, veggies and/or fruits. I love recipes like this that take a few simple ingredients and look like an extravaganza! And if you don’t have a wooden board, it would like fantastic on an old battered sheet tray or any platter you do have.
I know, I’m raising some flags with the mention of Romadur, a German Cheese and Camembert, but if you can’t find or afford those use Brie. Brie has become pretty budget-friendly and you can buy a good-sized wedge of
cheap inexpensive Brie these days for not much more than any common old grocery store cheese. And using an expensive cheese in this recipe, where it’s stretched with other ingredients would be a bit of a shame. Of course, if money is no object, go for the gold, here! But even with budget shopping, Obatzda IS still a bit of a splurge; luckily, a little goes a long way! So I’m sayin’ I think I’ve kept my cheap pride fairly intact, lol!
Making Obatzda – Bavarian Cheese Spread:
It’s absolutely key to have the ingredients out and at room temperature for a good amount of time so they mix in easily. You can make your Obatzda by hand, mashing with a large fork, but it’s so much easier with a food processor. You’ll start with the Camembert or the Brie, then add butter. After that’s whipped, in goes the cream cheese (because you can’t usually by Quark here in the US). Toss in the spices (add a little horseradish if you lean that way) and beer and blend it all together. I like to fold in the onions by hand. I was worried they might get strong tasting with time, but letting this dip sit overnight in the fridge, onion and all, did wonders to blend those flavors! It was perfection.
Notes on the Ingredients: First all, this is a crazy amount of butter; it’s 1/3 the total cheese and it is the traditional amount; ya gotta trust on this. As far as the caraway; some people find this flavor very strong. With the cheese and the beer, the flavor hardly comes through with 1 teaspoon; it’s very subtle. I like a teaspoon and a half. Just keep in mind however much you use, you can add but not take away. Same with the horseradish. I used pure horseradish, not a horseradish mixed with cream. Just taste as you add and put in the amount that you like. Since I only have regular sweet paprika (a grocery store variety) I bolstered the taste with just a little cayenne. It’s only enough to enhance, not enough for any heat. Use your judgment and add more if you’re looking for some heat.
You could probably use any beer you’d like, but recommended is an Octoberfest Wheat Beer. It’s what’s used in a lot of the German recipes I translated and it has a flavor that’s complementary but not too overpowering. So that’s the real cost of this dip!! You only need a touch, though, a quarter cup. So you’ll just have to figure out to do with the rest of it, lol! If alcohol isn’t in your wheelhouse, I made this, too with apple cider. A different taste but still excellent!
Saving Money on Obatzda – Bavarian Cheese Spread:
I don’t drink a lot, and don’t talk a lot about how to score your hooch on the cheap. First of all, get emails from your fave liquor stores, and just like any other product, shop holiday sales. Seriously it makes such a difference. Stock up at a low if you can keep it around. There is no sense in ever paying full price for any alcohol; the sales come too often and are so varied. Most stores will have two or three big sales a year. For wine, it’s usually in February, for liquor, generally March and for beer, watch in the fall before Christmas and New Year.
I already spoke about the cheese, and the other two ingredients to look for at a great price are the butter and the cream cheese. Again, watch for them on sale at your grocery store around any holiday, or pick them up at Aldi (where you can buy in smaller amounts) or your buyer’s club. Their everyday prices rival the grocery store sale prices. Just make sure you have a use for the rest of the cream cheese!Print
Obatzda – Bavarian Cheese Spread
A rich and robust spread for pretzels, bread, fruit or veggies
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 to 2 1/2 cups 1x
- 7 to 8 ounces Camembert or Brie, rind removed, set out to room temperature
- 4 ounces (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) butter, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cream cheese (cottage cheese works, too) room temperature
- 1 teaspoon paprika, sweet or hot (try sweet with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon crushed, not ground, caraway seed
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon horseradish
- 1/2 cup Ocoberfest Wheat Beer (sub apple cider for non-alcohol version)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 cup finely minced onion
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives for garnish
- 1 bunch radishes. for serving
- thinly sliced red onion, for serving
- pear and/or apple slices, for serving
- pretzels and/or bread for serving
Set out Camembert, butter and cream cheese, if using, to soften at room temperature. Meanwhile, crush caraway seeds with a mortar & pestle or between two pans,
In a food processor, add chunks of the Camembert or brie, process for a minute or two until broken down. Add the butter in chunks, process again, stopping to scrape down as necessary. Add in the cream or cottage cheese and do the same. Add the paprika and cayenne if using, the carraway and horseradish, beer and salt and pepper. Process to a light and creamy spread. Remove from the processor to a bowl and fold in the onions by hand. Best if refrigerated overnight.
To serve, leave out for a half an hour to an hour to soften if needed. Scoop out several portions on a large board. Sprinkle with chives. Serve with assorted pretzels, bread, fruit like apple or pear, and radishes along with some red onion rings.
Keywords: Appetizer, brie, Camembert, Cheese, German, Spreads and Dips