Servings: Makes 6–8 servings
- 1 large head garlic
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon whole assorted peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro , plus whole leaves for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese or light cream cheese , chilled for balls, room temperature for spirals
- 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas , for spirals or assorted flatbread crackers for balls
Heat oven to 400°F. Cut top third off garlic; rub with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Loosely wrap in foil; roast 35 to 40 minutes, until cloves are very tender. Remove; let cool.
Meanwhile, place a paper towel on a cutting board and spread peppercorns on it. Place a heavy skillet on top of them; press hard on pan, gently rolling it over peppercorns to crack them. Set aside.
In a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, toast cumin seeds, swirling pan often until seeds are fragrant and toasted, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Squeeze garlic flesh from each clove into a medium bowl. Add crushed peppercorns, cumin, chopped cilantro, salt, red pepper and remaining olive oil; mix well.
If you're making cream cheese balls, roll cream cheese into balls (1 teaspoon each). Drop into spice mixture. Cover and marinate several hours at room temperature. (Cheese balls will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks; bring to room temperature before serving.)
If you're making cream cheese spirals, in a medium bowl, combine cream cheese with spice mixture; using a wooden spoon, stir until combined. Divide mixture among tortillas and spread evenly over each. Roll each tortilla into a tight log. Trim ends to make a clean edge. Slice tortillas cross-wise into 1-inch spirals.
Presentation 1: Cheese and Flatbread
Using small glasses or clean votive holders, spoon 3 or 4 cheese balls with some marinade into each glass. Break a flatbread cracker lengthwise; place on each rim for dipping.
Presentation 2: Cheese Spirals
Arrange 1-inch spirals on a tray so that the cut sides face out. Alternatively, stand rolls upright, seam side facing in.
Adapted from Dishing with Style by Rori Trovato