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Start with creamy and slightly tart vegan cream cheese. Add in some sweet heat with apricot jam and jalapeños. Encase it with a thick, hearty, buttery grilled bread; and you’ve got a mouthful of comfort and joy!
I’m lucky that my sister and brother-in-law are high-end personal/special event chefs. It means they have all the best ideas for delicious food at their fingertips. One day when I had been working on a vegan brownies recipe, I was overfilled and overstuffed with chocolate and sugary sweet (you taste-test a lot when developing recipes) and needed something a little more savory, comforting, and substantial to cleanse my palate. What I was craving was a grilled cheese sandwich.
Unfortunately, I was fresh out my favorite brand of vegan cheese…
“Well what cheese do you have?” she asked.
“I have cream cheese,” I told her. “But that’s kinda boring for a grilled cheese.”
“Do you have jam?” she asked. “And jalapeños?”
I did have jam – apricot jam. AND I had jarred jalapeños! The grilled sweet heat vegan cream cheese sandwich was born!
What you will need to make a sweet heat grilled cream cheese sandwich:
(There is a handy printable recipe card below if you continue to scroll down. In it you will find all of the exact ingredients and directions. Please read through the following sections though for some great hints so that your grilled sandwich will be as tasty as mine!)
- you favorite brand vegan cream cheese (or cream cheese of choice if you are vegetarian)
- softened vegan butter – I use tub butter for ease of spreading
- apricot jam
- sliced jalapeños – I really like to use jarred jalapeños and in fact, the “tamed” jalapeños
- Slices of thick hearty bread – regular sandwich bread will fall apart and not work well for this recipe
- panini press or griddle (affiliate links)
What bread is best to use for a grilled cream cheese sandwich?
You’ve got to use a thick hearty bread. If you are just making a basic cream cheese sandwich then feel free to use standard sandwich bread. This grilled sandwich has a lot of soft and gooey deliciousness inside and really does require a dense bread. I like either sourdough or shepherd’s bread.
How do I know if my bread is vegan?
It’s easy enough to turn the packaged loaf over and read the ingredients. By law (In the USA at least) manufactures are required to disclose common allergens such as eggs and dairy – so lucky us, it makes it easy.
One thing I just learned about however, is if “enzymes” are included in the ingredient, they might be sourced from animal pancreas. Yuck. I have seen some bread labels specifically indicate “from plant sources”. That is pretty rare though. There are some other questionable ingredients such as L-cysteine which can be derived from duck feathers or even human hair. Here is complete explanation if you are curious. If this is a concern to you, your best bet is to call the the company and ask the question. There is usually a number on the packaging label.
What is the best vegan cream cheese and butter to use?
You will just have to find the brand that makes you happy. This is an individual taste thing. For me, I really like the taste and texture of Kite Hill cream cheese.
For the vegan butter I like to use the tub buttery spread for ease of spreading. No softening required. The brands I enjoy and can easily source are Earth Balance and Country Crock. Just read the labels to make sure you are getting plant butter.
Why use jarred jalapeños?
I don’t like to cut jalapeños. I am careless and tend to touch my eye area. (Don’t do this!) My family also doesn’t like the heat of regular jalapeños. The tamed jarred jalapeños still give you to flavor and a little heat. Feel free to use any type of jalapeño you’d like!
How to prepare the grilled sweet heat vegan cream cheese sandwich?
I like to use a panini press because I like the aesthetics of the grill lines and the fact that it heats and evenly the sandwich on both sides without needing to flip it.
This grilled sandwich could easily be made on a regular griddle though. Either way, preheat your panini maker or griddle on medium heat.
I spread the cream cheese filling on one side of the bread and then place the jalapeño rings on top. Press in firmly so that they don’t stick.
Next, I spread apricot jam on the other slice of bread. Peach jam would also be yummy on this or even orange marmalade. If you are concerned about your jam containing vegan sugar then stick with organic jam. Organic sugar is not processed using bone char.
Butter your bread on the outside of the sandwich with softened or tub butter spread and get ready to grill.
My panini maker takes about five minutes. Do watch it the first time though, checking often so that you don’t overcook. If you use a griddle then again watch it, but it should cook for a few minutes on each side before flipping.
Cut in two and enjoy!
I like my grilled sandwiches with soup. You can try my:
- Veggie Lentil Soup
- Creamy Vegetable Pasta Soup
- Or try my new Tomato Soup made with a rich and creamy garlic cashew sauce!
And now for the recipe!
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Vegan Cream Cheese Panini with Sweet Heat
- panini maker or griddle
- 2 Tablespoons butter vegan
- 2 slices hearty thick bread like sourdough
- 2 Tablespoons cream cheese vegan
- 2 Tablespoons Apricot Jam
- 12 slices jalapeños pickled/bottled I use miild
- Prepheat your panini maker or griddle to medium.
- Soften the vegan butter to make it spreadable. I use tub buttery spread which is already sofened.
- Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. This will be the outside of your sandwich - top and bottom.
- On the inside of the sandwich, sread the creamcheese on one side and the apricat jam on the other.
- Evenly place the jalapeños on the cream cheese side.
- Put the sandwich together and place on heated panini maker. Close the lid gently - don't squish it down.
- Cook for about 5 minutes or until sandwich is light golden brown and toasted. Remove of panini maker and cut in two.
- If you are using a griddle, cook on the first side till golden brown then flip and continue cooking.