Tasty Party Snacks: Fresh Guacamole and Truffle Cream Cheese

Looking for a way to keep your guests busy while you wait for your roast turkey to finish cooking?  Looking for a way to keep your friends from feeling hungry while slow cooking your barbecue ribs?  Looking for an easy party food idea?  Then check out these two simple ideas for delicious finger food: chips and guacamole (yes, real fresh guacamole made with fresh ingredients) as well as toasted bread slices with truffle cream cheese.  First, let’s head south of the border for Alton Brown’s take on guacamole (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/guacamole-recipe/index.html).

If store-bought guacamole has turned you off from avocados, this smooth yet chunky creation will definitely bring you back to enjoying fresh avocados combined with a variety of flavors and freshly chopped vegetables, the way guacamole is meant to be enjoyed:

– 3 Haas avocados (California Avocados)

– 1 lime

– ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

– ½ teaspoon ground cumin

– ½ teaspoon salt

– ½ white onion

– 2 roma tomatoes

– 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

– 1 garlic clove

– Optional: 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers

– Tortilla chips (I recommend Calidad brand tortilla chips because they are inexpensive and surprisingly delicious, but any tortilla chip will do so long as they are not flavored like Doritos.  We want to be able to taste the guacamole without any deterrents)

Calidad brand Tortilla Chips and Fresh Guacamole

The guacamole after being attacked by party guests!

Guacamole on a chip

I have to be honest, when I first tried to make guacamole, I totally didn’t realize that the avocados had to be RIPE.  Yes, I tried once using hard avocados assuming the lime juice would soften them up.  They wouldn’t come out of the peel, so I ended up using a potato peeler to remove the skin!  Pretty dumb huh?  Haha, yea, so please, don’t make the same mistake.  Make sure you’re buying ripe avocados or if they’re not ripe, let them ripen on your kitchen countertop for a few days to a week.  I’ve heard you can also speed the process up by placing them in a paper bag and adding a tomato, apple, or banana to help accelerate ethylene gas production that causes ripening.  I haven’t tried that yet, but you’ll know an avocado is ripe when you apply firm pressure and the avocado feels fairly soft.  Do not refrigerate your avocados, especially if they are unripe, and plan to use them soon after they are ripe.

Dice onion and Roma tomatoes and set aside.  Chop garlic and cilantro and set aside.  If using a jalapeno, remove seeds before chopping it into small pieces unless you want to add a lot more heat.  Set chopped jalapeño aside.  Split each avocado in half, remove and discard the seed, and use a spoon to scoop out the avocado flesh from the skin and place into a large mixing bowl.  Roll a lime, cut in half, and squeeze the lime juice onto the avocados.  This prevents the avocados from oxidizing and turning brown.  Add cayenne, cumin, and salt into the bowl and mash using a potato masher until the consistency is fairly uniform (a few small chunks here and there are okay).  Add onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic into the bowl and mix together with avocados using a spoon.  When the guacamole is well mixed, place into a serving bowl, cover the surface of the guacamole with plastic wrap to create a tight seal, and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.  This allows the flavors to settle in and reduces the chance of oxidation.  Remove the plastic wrap after one hour, add seasonings if needed, and serve with tortilla chips or any other foods.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Next up, we travel across the Atlantic and explore Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for truffle cream cheese.  I remember watching this on a clip from one of his British shows.  He says that its a great idea for holiday feasts, particularly on Christmas, and it goes great with a glass of champagne or white wine before dinner.  Here it is:

– 8 oz. cream cheese (light cream cheese works too)

– 8 oz. sour cream (again, use light if you prefer)

– 1 to 2 handfuls of freshly chopped chives (use chopped green onions if you absolutely can’t find chives)

– Truffle oil (use about 1 to 2 teaspoons if you’re using the cheap synthetic truffle oil; use only 1 to 2 DROPS if you’re using a much stronger, more expensive, authentic truffle oil with a more pungent smell)

– French bread (8 to 12 ounces will do) cut into roughly ¼ inch slices

– Olive oil

– Salt and pepper to taste

– Optional but recommended: Garlic Salt

Truffle Cream Cheese with Toasted French Bread Slices

Close-up of the truffle cream cheese

Cream Cheese spread onto the bread slice

For this recipe, I strongly recommend using fresh chives and authentic truffle oil.  The authentic truffle oil will have a very small piece of truffle in it and will have a very strong pungent smell.  I remember when I first smelled it and boy, was I blown away.  It may cost around $30 for a small bottle but the flavor it creates is well worth it and its way cheaper than actual truffles themselves.  But whatever you do, when using the authentic truffle oil, be very careful not to use it in big amounts.  Also, using actual bread slices is a better deal (not to mention a lot cheaper), but if you’re not feeling up to the extra task or simply in a hurry, you can use store-bought toasted garlic bread croutons (not salad croutons), crunchy bread sticks, or other similar items.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (only if you are making actual french bread slices).  Let cream cheese sit at room temperature until it is soft for easier preparation.  The more chilled it is, the tougher the initial mixing process will be.  Place cream cheese into a mixing bowl and whip the cream cheese using a wooden spoon until the cream cheese breaks down and softens into a lighter texture.  Add sour cream and mix in with the cream cheese.  Chop chives (do not overly chop to prevent bruising) and place them into the bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.  Add truffle oil and mix until the cream cheese is well mixed.  Set aside or refrigerate if planning to save for later.

Slice French bread into ¼ inch slices.  Place slices in a single layer on a baking pan or cookie sheet and sprinkle salt (I used garlic salt) and pepper.  Drizzle olive oil on the slices and evenly coat them using a pastry or basting brush.  Place slices into the oven until the top is golden brown.  This should take about 3-6 minutes.  Keep an eye out for them and remove slices quickly when browned to avoid burning.  You can also use the broiler to toast the slices if you like, but make sure to set it to low and watch the slices carefully to avoid burning.  Serve bread slices along with cream cheese.

So whether you’re looking for a zesty southwestern dip or a gourmet canapé, you’ll surely please your party guests with these tasty snack ideas.  Just don’t make so much that they end up indulging on your appetizers while leaving no room for the actual meal that is yet to be eaten.

Bon Appetit!

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One Response to “Tasty Party Snacks: Fresh Guacamole and Truffle Cream Cheese”

  1. […] For a couple of tasty appetizer ideas that will work great with any party, visit: https://eurasianepicurean.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/partysnacks/ […]

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