Don't Forget One Crucial Step Before Smoking Cream Cheese

As tasty as a fresh package of cream cheese may be, sometimes it can be a bit boring unless it's doctored up a bit. While you could opt to work in a few mix-ins like everything bagel seasoning or fresh herbs, there's another way to make a brick of plain cream cheese all the more interesting, and that's by smoking it for a few hours. But, before letting the smoker work its magic, remember this one ultra-important prep step. 

Smoking has become an increasingly popular way of deepening flavor. Once reserved for hunks of brisket and racks of ribs, anything from seasonal produce to nuts, eggs, or even condiments can benefit from a bit of hazy goodness. Unsurprisingly, dairy isn't a stranger to the smoker either. Although you might be familiar with seeing smoked firm cheeses like cheddar or gouda at your local market, you might be surprised to learn that you can even smoke cream cheese.

Served as a unique appetizer or in place of regular cream cheese in a recipe, the haze-kissed block is a great way to venture outside of your comfort zone. Luckily, to save you the trial and error period, we've got a tip that'll help make successfully smoking cream cheese a cinch.

Don't slice, score

Along with choosing the proper type of smoker and a suitable type of wood, some other things that can ensure an appetizing outcome include how the cheese is handled before it even meets the smoking chamber. There's no denying that allowing it to smoke for at least a couple of hours is a must to make sure that all that hazy flavor is able to be absorbed, but the surefire way to guarantee that flavor fully permeates into the brick of cream cheese is to score the top. 

Using your knife to create a criss-cross pattern about halfway into a cold and full-fat brick (not the whipped varieties in a container) means that the smoky goodness will seep further into the cheese so that every bite has that same toasty flavor while ensuring that the block will stay intact. Likewise, scoring can also help other seasonings and sauces to better saturate the cheese and contribute to more evenly distributed flavors. Plus, making these shallow cuts can even make for a better presentation, as they reveal the gooey cheese inside post-smoke. 

With so much working in favor of the score, this is one technique that should never be forgotten when smoking cream cheese or any other food for that matter. It would also make the perfect showstopper piece on your next charcuterie board