Sherried Cheddar Spread: Homemade Holiday Gifts

Served with crackers or baguette slices, this sherried cheddar spread is a great appetizer for a party. But it also make a terrific homemade gift if you package it up in pretty little crocks. You can bundle it into a cocktail party themed gift set with the pomegranate ginger vodka described below and some spiced nuts, or let it stand alone.


Work with a friend to make and assemble homemade holiday gifts, and definitely sample the vodka. 🙂

Homemade holiday gifts, cocktail edition

Folks, I’m not gonna lie. We’re getting down to the wire when it comes to 2009 holiday gift giving. That’s why today’s featured recipe is a Ball jar filled with vodka—or as I like to call it, a Ball jar with a little vodka siphoned off the top. What?

Last week I wrote about how to make a breakfast medley of granola, lemon curd and hot cocoa mix for the more demure members of your gift list. But let’s be honest. Not every giver wants to spend Christmas Eve pinned to an instant-read thermometer. And not every giftee wants to wake up in time for a civilized breakfast. Sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and Ball some vodka. What?

The vodka itself—Pomegranate Ginger Vodka, if you want to get all fancy—won’t take more than a few minutes to make. Pour some into a very clean jar with a tight-fitting lid, add a few slices of fresh ginger and a handful of pomegranate seeds, slap a label on that baby, and you’re done. Aunt Selma and the mailman will have a great Christmas night. Maybe even together.

But wait, there’s more. I think we can agree that you certainly wouldn’t want to be responsible for sending the mail truck careening off the road after midnight. Are you with me? So it’s probably a good idea to add a little nibble or two to the mix. Daphne and I highly recommend Smitten Kitchen’s Sweet and Spicy Nuts and a little something that Daphne earnestly called “Pottage Cheese” maybe twenty-seven times over the course of two days last week. I like to call it Sherried Cheddar Spread, but that name gets harder to say in direct proportion to the amount of vodka testing you’ve done.

Sherried Cheddar Spread (aka Pottage Cheese)

Makes about four cups of sherried cheddar spread, enough for a big party or for four gifts packaged into 8-ounce crocks.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Serves 64


  • 1 pound good, extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon roasted garlic purĂ©e*
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • A few generous pinches of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry, plus more as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Place half of cheese, along with onion, garlic puree, chives, mustard and cayenne, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until smooth.
  2. With the motor running, add the sherry and olive oil. Process to incorporate.
  3. Add the remaining cheese and process until very thick and smooth.
  4. Add additional sherry 1 tablespoon at a time to thin, if necessary.
  5. Pack into 8-ounce crocks. Refrigerate for up to one month. Bring to room temperature before serving with crackers or toasts.


Adapted from Homemade by Judith Choate.

*To make your own roasted garlic purée, roast a whole head of garlic, rubbed with olive oil, in a small oven-proof dish at 350°F until soft, about 40 minutes. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves from skins.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size:

1 tablespoon

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 32 Total Fat:: 2.6g Carbohydrates:: 0.4g Fiber:: 0g Protein:: 1.7g