Liptauer cheese is one of my all-time favorite snacks – if you’re not familiar with it, it’s a spreadable cheese that incorporates onion, garlic, pickles, capers, mustard and a whole lot of paprika. The key spice flavoring this delectable spread (besides paprika) is caraway – IMHO caraway is a must-use ingredient in this dish, yet I have seen a number of recipes that omit it. If you’re familiar with the Southern U.S. appetizer known as pimiento cheese – this is just a more aristocratic version of that time-honored treat. 🙂
Liptauer – which is known as Liptói körözött in Hungarian – is actually named after the former Hungarian county of Liptó, which is now a part of Slovakia. It remains popular not only in Hungary but in several different countries in the region, including Austria. This relationship of course makes sense when you remember that at one point, Austria and Hungary were united as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire!
My version is based on an Austrian recipe that bizarrely omits the caraway – I’ve adapted it slightly, increasing a few ingredients to suit my taste and putting that essential caraway back into it. I also changed onion to shallots, as I think they work better in this particular recipe and instead of water, I use a touch of Austrian Gewurtztraminer or Riesling wine.
A proper Liptauer cheese combines Quark (pronounced Kvark) cheese with butter to achieve a fine spreadable consistency. For those unfamiliar with it, Quark is a type of fresh dairy product, common in the cuisines of German-speaking countries. It is made by warming soured milk until the desired degree of coagulation of milk proteins is met, and then strained. I provide easier to obtain alternatives in the recipe.
Enjoy this delicious cheese spread with soft pretzels, celery sticks, crackers, or German rye bread my Citizens – and enjoy the true taste of Austria!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. cream cheese
1 c. quark cheese (if you can find a version made from goat milk, you’re truly being authentic! Quark is usually available at Whole Foods, or substitute fromage blanc (drained), soft farmer’s cheese, or 2 parts full-fat Greek yogurt and 1 part whipped cream cheese)
2 shallots, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tsp. Austrian Gewurtztraminer or Riesling (preferred) or water
⅓ c. chopped pickles (German pickles are sweet-sour, so use equal amounts dill pickles mixed with bread and butter pickles)
2 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
½ Tbsp. freshly ground caraway seed
1 ½ tsp. hot German or Dijon mustard
1 tsp. finely minced anchovies
1 tsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. capers, chopped
1 tsp. fresh snipped chives, plus more for garnish
1 large pinch cayenne pepper
Minced dill, for garnish
Salt & pepper, to taste
1. In a medium bowl, whip the butter, cream cheese, and quark (or its substitute). Make sure the butter is soft to avoid unpleasant chunks.
2. Add the wine (or water), onion, garlic, and 1 Tbsp. of the butter-cheese mixture to a blender and purée.
3. Pour the shallot-garlic puree into the bowl with the cheeses and mix well.
4. Mix in the remaining ingredients and combine well. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. If you used unsalted butter, salt liberally.
Garnish with snipped chives and dill and serve. Liptauer tastes best when made the day before, so the flavors have a chance to meld together.