If Christmas is about anything, it’s about food. And this edible Christmas tree shaped dip is not only appropriately festive and impressive, it’s delicious and easy to make too. Here’s how to make the ultimate cheese and olive Christmas tree recipe.
Whether you’re planning on a giant roast turkey or a bucket of fresh prawns for your Christmas dinner this year, you’ve got to get things started first.
The usual cheese plate and peanut bowls are all well and good, but if you want something that’ll really make an impression, this antipasto plate in the shape of a Christmas tree is an instant hit.
Christina discovered and adapted this recipe from YouTube last year and everyone loved it. We even put one together when our friends Clare and Dave in the UK threw an early Christmas dinner in September for us before we left.
This is one of those rare recipes that always seems to work and is always eye-catching.
The ultimate cheese and olive Christmas tree recipe
Serves a big, hungry party or a small group twice! Will store well in the fridge if not eaten all at once.
Here’s what you need:
2x large blocks of cream cheese (4 cups) – don’t buy the spreadable kind
1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes – chopped
½ cup of marinated artichokes and capsicum
100g salami – finely chopped
1 tbsp French onion soup mix (or garlic powder, onion powder, salt to taste)
2 cups of mixed green and black pitted olives
2-3 sticks of rosemary
Here’s what you do:
1. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, capsicum, salami and French soup mix together until well combined. You can also add a little of the oil from the marinated artichokes, but not too much as it’ll make the cream cheese too runny.
2. Turn the mixture out onto a sheet of cling film big enough to wrap up all the mixture. Begin massaging the mixture into a rough cone shape. Make it as tall as you like, but remember your cheese and olive Christmas tree has to fit in the fridge.
3. Carefully move the cheese cone onto the plate you’ll be serving it on and smooth out the sides with a knife or the back of a spoon. A little water on the metal will stop the knife or spoon from sticking.
4. Push the olives into the surface of the cone until it’s completely covered then break off small sprigs of rosemary and push them into the gaps between the olives. Then push the basil leaves into gaps too.
5. Refrigerate for an hour or until the cream cheese has set. Serve with crackers or sliced French stick.
Alternatives and things to note:
– While the rosemary looks really effective, it’s not very edible. Using basil as well or even instead of the rosemary makes things easier. It also smells really good.
– Instead of adding salami, try smoked salmon or trout. You can also swap out the French onion mix for smoky paprika and chilli for more of a Mexican feel.
– For vegetarians, leave out the salami (or fish alternatives) and check to make sure the cream cheese is vegetarian. Most cream cheese doesn’t have rennet in it, but some might.
– This is suitable for celiac and gluten-free diets.
When you serve your cheese and olive Christmas tree, you might find no one wants to go first in eating any of this masterpiece. It looks too good to disturb. It’s also hard to know where to start!
It’s a good idea (once everyone’s taken their photos of it – and everyone will!) to go first and scoop out a bit to get the ball rolling.
If all of it doesn’t get eaten, the rest of the cheese and olive Christmas tree can go back in the fridge and will still be good for a couple of days… if it lasts that long.
Do you have a favourite recipe you like to bring to the party each year? Share it with us in the comments!