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!
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