Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Goat Cheese, Grape and Candied Walnut Bruschetta

I needed an easily portable appetizer to take to our Christmas Eve festivities.  I started thinking about different possibilities and decided that bruschetta would work perfectly.  Based on a salad combo I love, I was originally thinking gorgonzola with grapes and candied walnuts.  When I got to the store, I decided to use goat cheese instead. I love goat cheese and I figured it would spread more smoothly.

At first I wasn't sure how I was going to combine the cheese, grapes and walnuts.  Do I crumble the cheese and mix it around with the grapes and nuts in hopes that it'll be moist enough to stay put on the bread?  Or do I spread the cheese and top it with the other ingredients?  As you can see I went for the latter approach which worked out pretty well.  As far as my bread choice, I went for a baguette because it was perfectly chewy for this appetizer.  Try to buy your baguette the same day you plan to eat it so the bread doesn't get too hard.  If you end up with a softer type of bread, you may want to lightly toast the slices.

I was worried that there wouldn't be enough goat cheese to cover all the bread so I decided to add some cream cheese.  It's cheaper than goat cheese and mild enough that the goat cheese is still the prominent flavor (and the most convenient reason:  I already had cream cheese in the fridge so no more trips to the store!).  Feel free to buy a bigger log of goat cheese if you want to omit the cream cheese.

UPDATE: I've also had this with herbed goat cheese and it was delicious!

Goat Cheese, Grape and Candied Walnut Bruschetta
Original Recipe

Fresh Baguette or Crackers
5.5 oz goat cheese, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
~30 large grapes, quartered
3/4 cup candied walnuts (recipe below), chopped
Balsamic Vinegar Reduction or Syrup* (optional)

Cut the baguette into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch slices.  Mix the two cheeses in a bowl until they are fully combined.  Spread the cheese mixture onto the baguette slices.  Top with grapes and candied walnuts, pressing down to ensure they stick.  

These can be made ahead of time the same day as your party, just pull them out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you plan to serve them to take the chill off.  Right before serving, drizzle with balsamic vinegar syrup if using.These could also be served as a build your own appetizer if you don't want to assemble them.

Candied Walnuts
From Food Network

In addition to the appetizer above, these walnuts are great on their own, and make a nice addition to salads.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz walnuts (about 2 heaping cups)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, cayenne and salt.

Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add the walnuts and blanch them for 3 minutes. Drain well and then immediately mix the walnuts into the sugar mixture until thoroughly coated. The sugar will melt slightly. Transfer the walnuts to a baking sheet or pan and bake, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully because the sugar can burn easily. Let cool completely before serving.

*Balsamic vinegar syrup can be purchased or you can make your own by adding some balsamic vinegar in a pan over medium heat and reduce to one-third the original amount.


  1. Oh. My. Goodness. Must go buy goat cheese and grapes, STAT.

  2. YUM! Those look amazing! Wine Bar in Rocky River used to have something very similar to that on their app menu and I was SO sad when they took it away! I think I need to bring this recipe to my next party (maybe with a balsamic reduction drizzle?!?!!? that would be so good!)

  3. A balsamic reduction drizzle sounds fabulous! I'll have to try that, thanks for the idea Allison!