One of my favourite things about the holidays are all the cocktail parties. And not because of the cocktails, either... I'm strictly there for the food. (Okay, maybe not strictly. But mostly.)
Forget the carols, the sleigh rides and the jingling bells. For me, the holidays are all about nibbling the evening away on a nice assortment of appetizers.
My own holiday tradition is to host a big open house where all of our friends and family and neighbours and everyone else we know is invited to join us for an evening of good food and good company.
It's tons of fun. The ground floor of our house is jammed to the rafters with merry makers of all ages, there's a pot of apple cider simmering away on the stovetop, and I usually make so much food that you can't see the dining room table any more... sure, it's all a little bit much, to say the least, but no one ever seems to complain.
One of my survival strategies for those big parties is to make a small assortment of three or four different dips.
Dips are the little black dress of the appetizer menu - they're super low maintenance, go with pretty much everything, can be dressed up or dressed down, and everyone loves them. I mean, why else would I have so many dips and spreads in my recipe archives?
Of course, you can't really serve dip without something on the side to actually... well... dip, which is why I got really excited when my go-to source for all things dippable, Ozery's Pita Break, approached me to do a holiday post and giveaway.
I first discovered Pita Break through their fluffy soft pitas, which are perfect for pairing with hummus, baba ganoush or other Middle Eastern style dips. (Bonus: they now come in adorable mini versions too!)
My current obsession, though, is their lavash crackers, which are satisfyingly crunchy and come in all sorts of delicious flavours. My favourite is the chipotle, but for this dish I'd recommend the more neutral honey and flax or multigrain crackers.
While the holidays are all about letting loose and indulging in your favourite vices, I still think it's important to point out that these crackers free of artificial preservatives, low in saturated and trans fats, and made entirely from ingredients you'd recognize from your own pantry like unbleached wheat flour, semolina, sunflower oil, sesame seeds and sea salt.
What I love best about them is that they're sturdy enough to handle a substantial dip without falling apart or going soggy, which comes in handy for dips like this baked goat cheese.
It's everything a hot dip should be - full of interesting flavours, and loaded with tons of creamy, melty, delicious cheese. To make things extra-festive, I've topped it with a quick fig and balsamic compote and a sprinkling of pistachios, but you could just as easily swap it out for a store-bought fig spread and a splash of balsamic syrup if you're short on time.
Either way, I guarantee that the combination will have your guests reaching for the crackers faster than you can say "jingle bells"!
Disclosure: I received monetary compensation and product samples from Ozery's Pita Break in exchange for creating this post. All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
This easy hot dip features a big dish of thyme-infused goat cheese that's baked to soft, spreadable perfection, plus a sweet-and-tangy balsamic fig topping for an extra boost of holiday cheer.
Balsamic Fig Compote
- ½ cup dried mission figs, sliced
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
Baked Goat Cheese Dip
- 300g (10 oz) package soft goat cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup cream cheese cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios, for garnish
- 1 package (220g) Ozery’s Pita Break Lavash Crackers, for serving
- Preheat oven to 400F.
Prepare the Compote:
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the figs, water, balsamic, honey and thyme to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the figs are soft.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the figs to a bowl, leaving the syrup and thyme sprigs in the pan. Increase heat to high and reduce to ¼ cup. Discard the thyme sprigs, and return the figs to the pan. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.
- (The compote can also be prepared up to a week in advance and then rewarmed on the stovetop as the dip is baking.)
Bake the Goat Cheese Dip:
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the goat cheese, cream cheese, olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper until smooth.
- Spread the cheese mixture into a well-seasoned 8” cast iron skillet (or a lightly greased baking dish) and smooth out into an even layer. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the top, then bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until bubbly and golden.
- Spoon half of the fig compote into the centre of the dip, and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Serve immediately with lots of Ozery’s Pita Break Lavash Crackers on the side for dipping.
- If the dip starts to cool off and gets too crumbly for easy dipping, just pop the dish back into the oven for 5 minutes to warm everything back up.
This recipe makes enough fig compote for two servings - you'll use half to top the dip, and then save the other half for another day. It’s delicious with roast pork or duck breast, or you can serve it in a pretty dish beside a cheese platter.
If you're really pressed for time, you can also substitute a few spoonfuls of prepared fig spread and a drizzle of balsamic reduction for the homemade topping.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Category: Appetizer
- Cuisine: Mediterranean