Remember when a cheese snack meant stale square cheese and crackers in a cellophane package? Or maybe your college days had you aiming an aerosol can of "cheese spread" straight into your mouth sans crunchy conveyance? Oh and there were those little tubs of pimento cheese swimming in mayonnaise.
We've come a long way, baby! Today's menu of cheese snacks starts with an endless array of cheese dips. Cream cheese dips boast bits of garden vegetables or fruits from the sea such as crab, lobster or shrimp. Happy-hour revelers consume Mexican queso dip by the gallon. Hot and cold blue cheese dips accented with horseradish, smoked almonds or bacon (and sometimes all three ingredients) adorn holiday tables.
Fried mozzarella dipped in marinara or barbecue sauce and baked brie top the lineup of hot cheese snacks. If you don't want to fuss with wrapping pastry around a wheel of brie, just spoon a seasonal topping such as brandied cranberry compote over the warmed brie for an elegant presentation.
Classic Southern or Italian cheese straws fresh from the oven are irresistible. Make several batches and freeze a batch or two for later use. Slice some chunks of Parmesan and drizzle with balsamic vinegar for an appealing instant snack. Combine extra-sharp cheddar cheese with a little hot mango chutney, form small balls and dip in chopped pistachio nuts. These instant delicacies will disappear before you can plate them.
The next time your junk-food autopilot kicks in, consider a contemporary cheese snack accompanied by some fruit instead.