Cream cheese is in the Gentleman’s Club of dairy products. While nearby shelves in the refrigerated section explode with 700 different brands and varieties of yogurt, cream cheese remains largely unchanged. For the most part, you’re going Kraft Philadelphia or you’re going generic, and even then, you’re probably not getting much variety from the generic brand.
I have a long-standing love of bagels, particularly when toasted and schmeared with what even I would admit is an embarrassing amount of cream cheese. There used to be a local mom ‘n’ pop bagel shop around the corner from where I live that I absolutely adored. The plethora of bagel flavors, the cream cheese selection…it was like a little breakfast heaven.
And then they went out of business.
Heartbroken and with nary an Einstein Bros. In sight, I turned my eye to the grocery store, and then I remembered why I love bagel shops so much. I can take the limited variety of bagel flavors in stores – I’ll make do with an Everything – but the cream cheese flavors suck.
I’ve never been fond of the fruity cream cheeses, and this really limits a girl. If you want savory, Philadelphia generally offers Salmon, Chive & Onion or Garden Vegetable, none of which I’ve found particularly exciting.
But then Philly pulled through for me.
Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese
First I found the Spicy Jalapeño flavor, and I did a happy snack dance right there in the dairy aisle. This has always been my absolute favorite flavor of cream cheese from bagel shops, and I always wondered, sometimes sadly, sometimes angrily, why this was never a flavor found in grocery stores.
I was seriously stoked. Like, way more than a person should be about cream cheese. But this was like a dream fulfilled. A wish granted. Cream cheese.
And I am so very glad to report that Spicy Jalapeño lived up to my every expectation. The texture of the cream cheese was classic Philly – thick but easily spreadable.
They weren’t skimpy on the peppers, either; it was chock full of perfectly-sized chunks of real jalapeño that delivered on heat and flavor. It was great to bite into my toasted bagel and get the smooth cream cheese punctuated by crunchy little bits of heat. The cool cream cheese and the spicy peppers made a perfect combo.
Verdict: match made in heaven.
Kraft Philadelphia Chipotle Cream Cheese
But oh, Kraft was not done with me yet. I was happily buying yet another tub of Spicy Jalapeño when I saw something I had neither dreamed of nor tasted before – Philadelphia Chipotle Cream Cheese.
It probably goes without saying that the dance came out again.
I was a little more trepedatious about this one. Acutely aware that I sound like a broken record as I write this, I am constantly dissatisfied with things that claim to be chipotle-flavored. It seems like most companies think “chipotle” means “generically spicy” or, if you’re really lucky, “spicy with a little fake smoky flavor”.
Having already fallen in love with Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño, I thought I may have pushed my luck too far.
First of all, hello orange. I was not expecting that when I opened up the tub. It’s not exactly the most attractive hue for cream cheese; in fact, it reminded me of pumpkin, but maybe that’s just the fact that I can’t turn around in a grocery store without seeing something pumpkin spice-flavored.
The hue actually makes sense though; chipotle peppers are much softer than regular jalapeños, so they would blend much more easily into the cream cheese, leaving just small chunks.
I found it interesting that Philly Chipotle Cream Cheese is a lot thinner than your run-of-the-mill cream cheese. It’s not at all runny, it’s just smooth and easily spreadable, whereas, say, Spicy Jalapeño can be applied with some chunkiness.
In fact, it’s probably a good thing the Chipotle Cream Cheese was thinner, because it’s actually spicier than the Jalapeño variety. Whereas the spice bursts come with the pepper chunks in the latter, it seems more uniform in the former. My nose was even a little runny after I’d finished my bagel.
As for actually tasting like chipotle? Score. Spicy, smoky and flavorful, Philly Chipotle Cream Cheese actually managed to capture the true essence of chipotle peppers, while also letting the flavor of cream cheese come through.
Through sheer coincidence, somebody made a comment about these two cream cheeses on a review I did for The Impulsive Buy back in January for some Chipotle Crema Doritos. I’d forgotten I’d even mentioned it, but in the review, I mused that I should really try blending chipotles with cream cheese, because that sounded delicious.
It was destiny.
I think I sound like I’m writing a really long commercial for Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño and Chipotle Cream Cheeses, but the truth is that I love them both and will most likely keep them in stock in my fridge at all times. Nevermore do I have to hit a bagel shop just to get my spicy cream cheese fix; now I can just hit the dairy aisle of my local grocery store.
Now then, about those limited bagel flavors…
Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese and Chipotle Cream Cheese
- Score (Spicy Jalapeño): 5 out of 5 cream cheese dreams fulfilled
- Score (Chipotle): 5 out of 5 runny noses
- Price: $2.79 each
- Size: 8 oz. tub
- Purchased at: Safeway #1717
- Nutritional Quirks: Both flavors contain real peppers near the top of their ingredient lists, and it shows.