I don't think I'd be wrong in declaring that cream cheese makes everything more desirable. Whipped into an ethereally airy mass, sweetened lightly, and served alongside skewered fruit for dipping—I’m not sure there exists a most perfect, fun dessert out there.
Cream cheese fruit dip is typically simply flavored, consisting of whipped cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Sometimes crumbled chocolate sandwich cookies get stirred in for a little cookies ‘n’ cream action; other times, rainbow sprinkles for a flavor that’s reminiscent of birthday cake.
But all this sugar on sugar can become cloying and mask the accompanying fruits’ inherent sweetness and flavor. I wanted a cream cheese fruit dip that was a bit different—with subtle spice, a slightly more complex sweetness, and a noticeable tang.
Ground cardamom’s smoky, resinous fragrance grounds this version, and plays nicely with browned pistachios and honeyed figs; but feel free to swap in whatever spice you’re favoring as of late. Cinnamon works beautifully here, and would pair (pear?) especially well with autumnal fruits like sweet-tart apples and crisp or poached pears. Or, try a splash of orange flower or rosewater.
Instead of sweetening solely with powdered sugar, I chose a floral honey to split the burden here. For a deeper, maltier sweetness, try buckwheat honey or a dark maple syrup. If wanting a dip that more heavily features the dairy or spices, use a subtler flavored syrup like agave. To keep the dip from being too sweet, I folded in some sour cream, but Greek yogurt, crème fraîche, and mascarpone are all wonderful, zippy substitutes.
Serve with your choice of toasted nuts and seasonal fruits. To make ahead, keep the sweetened cream cheese refrigerated and separate from the fruits and nuts until ready to serve. The dip will keep in the fridge for about 1 week.
—Renae E. Wilson
full-fat sour cream, Greek yogurt, or crème fraîche
chopped pistachios or walnuts (optional)
Sliced fruits, for serving
To a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese, powdered sugar, honey, sour cream, cardamom, and salt. Beat on medium-low until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the nuts, if using, and serve alongside sliced fruit.