Smoked Cheddar and Cranberry Dip


I have two shopping modes:

-speed-walking around the store, pausing only when politeness and common courtesy requires it. This is the “Exactly-what’s-on-the-list-and-fast-cause-I-got-stuff-to-do” mode.

and then there’s

-“Oooh look at that!” mode. This isn’t always a bad place to be. Magical stuff can come from “oooh-look-at-that.”

I was craving some pizza a few days ago, so I went out to get some dough. But when I got to the market, I noticed some pretty cranberries on sale, and they just looked so bright and tart. They were saying, “Hi, Annie! Buy me!” So I did. And um, some other things, none of which included pizza ingredients.


It was like the time last December when I went to the mall to return some pants.  I was on my way to the pants store when I remembered my friend Darryl was working the Hillshire Farm kiosk. I went over to say hi, and came away with a mouthful of cheese samples and a big block of smoked cheddar.


This dip came out of those deviations.

The smokiness of the cheddar goes so well with the sweet tart bite of the berries. And since I love spicy things, it had to have jalapenos on top. There is no other way. I was going to go for chipotles, but that would have been too much smokiness.

Did I mention it’s super easy to make? That, um, you need to make this for your next gameday party/stay inside and read all-day-day/family get together? Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres superstar? That’s you, baby.

P.S. I did return the pants.  I might be impulsive when it comes to cheese, but I am fastidious when it comes to clothes shopping. You don’t want it in your closet if you’re going to hate it. 

Smoked Cheddar and Cranberry Dip


  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 oz smoked cheddar
  • 1 bottle of your favorite beer
  • 3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated garlic
  • 1-2 jalapenos (depending on how spicy you like things)


  1. Put the cranberries, brown sugar, and water into a small skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 12 -15 minutes. Do not allow liquid to reduce too much. Remove from heat.
  2. Place the pumpkin and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat again. Stir briefly to combine.
  3. Add beer to the saucepan, and stir well to combine with the pumpkin.
  4. Allow the mixture to get good and hot -- you don't need it boiling -- before adding the cheese.
  5. Add the cheese in handfuls, making sure each handful is melted and incorporated before adding the next one. Again, it will take about 12-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat to serving bowl. Swirl in the cranberries, making sure to get plenty of juice in there. You may not end up using all the cranberries/juice.
  7. Sprinkle with jalapenos.
  8. Serve with toasty chips.




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