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If you’ve ever been to Cincinnati, you may have heard of a place called Taste of Belgium. Well, several places. What start out as a waffle and crepe stand in Findlay Market has become multiple restaurant locations throughout the city, and even beyond to Columbus.
The waffles themselves are amazing, but don’t think they are the “Belgian waffle” you’d find at your favorite breakfast joint. Instead of a plate-sized, fluffy confection, Taste of Belgium waffles are dense, only four or five inches in diameter, and so perfectly sweetened they don’t need any added syrup or garnishes. (Although they’re also great with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, a drizzle of maple syrup, Nutella…) But this is neither here nor there. I’ve never tasted another waffle like it, and I don’t know how to make them so I’ll keep visiting Taste of Belgium.
What I do know, now, is how to make a very close approximation of the beer cheese served at the Taste of Belgium restaurants. The only hint about this cheese on the menu is that it is made with raspberry lambic, and it comes with house made pretzel knots. The cheese itself is warm, soft and creamy but not dripping and messy. Easily spreadable but not artificially so. As one of my coworkers described it, it’s “less cheese whiz, more cream-based.”
I’d love to say my amazing and refined palate made this possible, that I am able to taste a restaurant dish and then recreated at home. Hah! As if. Instead, I have to admit I figured it out after repeatedly watching a clip of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where Guy Fieri visits Taste of Belgium and learns how to make the beer cheese from the owner himself. Following a couple of test runs, here’s my best approximation of the real deal. Just in time for Oktoberfest!
A word about the raspberry beer: The exact beer shown in the DDD episode is Boon Framboise, a raspberry lamic from Belgium, but any raspberry lambic should be fine. Don’t be scared off by the raspberry–it’s subtle but lends a nice sweet note to the cheese.
The beer cheese is best served warm right after it’s made, but it keeps fine in the fridge for a few days (and it’s not bad cold either). You can rewarm it in the oven or microwave before serving. When I brought a big batch to work last week, I heated it in the microwave in a Pyrex dish, which I then set inside my slow cooker on the “warm” setting. It stayed creamy and delicious for hours.
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 5 oz smoked Gouda, shredded
- 3 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
- 1/16 tsp cinnamon
- 2 shakes of nutmeg
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup Boon Framboise or another raspberry lambic
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Place the cream cheese inside a four-cup oven safe ramekin or pan (I used a one-quart sauce pan). Add the Gouda and Swiss and sprinkle with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the cream over top.
- Cover the pan with foil. Fill a larger pan (I used an 11 x 9 lasagna pan) with 1 inch of water and place it on a rack in the oven. Put the pan containing the cheese inside the large pan. Bake 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove the smaller pan from the oven (leave the water and remove it later, once your oven has cooled off). Uncover the pan and add the beer. Use an immersion blender to blend the dip until smooth.
- Serve with pretzels, bread or apple slices.