Körözött (Hungarian Paprika Cheese Spread)


Körözött is the name in Hungarian, but it's also known as Liptauer in German. This cheese spread is famous throughout central and eastern Europe. I didn't know about it until 10 years ago when I had it as part of my breakfast at a cafe in Budapest. It was served among a cold plate of cured meats with fresh bread. I fell in love from the first bite. It immediately reminded me of the pimento cheese spread we have in the States. Not as sweet as pimento cheese, körözött is more tangy and spicy. It's traditionally made with soft sheep's milk cheese and paprika, Hungary's red spice, which pretty much goes in everything.

In coming up with my recipe for körözött, I combined features I liked from classic recipes with the way my mom makes it. She always uses American cream cheese to make the cheese spread smoother. Traditionally Hungarians add butter, but I like to keep the recipe on the cheesy, creamy side, so I stick to using cream cheese and sour cream to loosen up the thick sheep's cheese. You could also make this recipe with soft goat's cheese, or a soft cow's cheese like farmer's cheese or even pureed cottage cheese. Basically you want a creamy curd cheese. In a pinch, ricotta could also work very well.


For serving körözött, I like to offer butter crackers, rye crackers, and fresh radishes. Scallions are also quite popular with körözött. Traditionally though you'll see körözött spread on rye bread, eaten like an open-faced sandwich. But you can pretty much spread körözött on anything, for example, a toasted bagel! Or, dip anything into körözött. Go for bell peppers, carrots, and celery. Add körözött to your crudité platter, or enjoy it spread in a sandwich for lunch. It's super versatile!


Note: If you can't find soft sheep's milk cheese, any soft, spreadable curd cheese can work in this recipe.

1 cup (8 ounces/250 grams) soft sheep's milk cheese, such as Bryndza
1/2 cup (4 ounces/125 grams) cream cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces/125 grams) sour cream
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/4 cup chopped chives, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish

In a large bowl, combine the sheep's cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream. Blend together with a fork or spoon until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper. Add the spices: onion powder, garlic powder, caraway, and paprika. Blend spices into the cheese mixture using a spoon or spatula. Fold in the chopped chives.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.

When ready to serve, transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with additional chopped chives. Serve with fresh bread, toasted bread, various crackers, and/or raw vegetables like radishes. Yield: 2 cups.


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