The competition was fierce, but these melt-in-your-mouth bits of perfection won by one vote. Since I enjoyed the prize of a one-hour massage in our 5-star spa, I wanted you to be able to share the fun by trying this tasty recipe.
This recipe has been around awhile, but I kicked it up a notch. Since they are now an award-winning recipe, I renamed them from Cheese Dreams to Panama Cheese Dreams to reflect the flavorful lifestyle of an international community.
Panama Cheese Dreams
1 loaf white sandwich bread
2 cups Smoked Gouda cheese, grated
1 cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 large egg
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. Yellow Mustard
1/4 cup Cholula Hot Sauce *
1/4 cup Chives, finely minced
1/2 cup bacon bits (optional)
Dice 4-5 slices of thick-cut bacon into small pieces. Fry until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan and cool on a paper towel until the excess grease is absorbed.
Using an electric mixer, beat cheese and butter until blended. Mix in the cream, egg, Worcestershire, mustard, and chives. Stir in the bacon bits by hand, and then add Cholula to taste.
Cut the crusts from bread slices using a serrated knife, and then cut each slice of bread into 4 pieces. Spread the cheese mixture thickly on one square of bread, and then top with a second square of bread. Then spread cheese mixture on the top and sides of the sandwich. (This is messy, so either use food prep plastic gloves or make sure your hands are scrupulously clean.) Place sandwiches spaced 1" apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
These are best when warm, so if you want to have hot appetizers throughout the evening, bake these in small batches. If using a toaster oven, lower the baking temperature to 350 and decrease the time if necessary.
* Note: Other hot sauce can be used, but I prefer Cholula's rich creamy flavor in this recipe over the vinegar taste of many other hot sauces, such as Tabasco.