Cucumber and cream cheese tramezzini



Tramezzini are the Italian partner to a nice late morning breakfast, or a twilight dinner snack with an aperitif; in particular these ones where the fresh and crisp cucumber enhances the tangy cream cheese filling.

The proper name for the filling of these tramezzini is "Benedictine" since it was invented by Jennie Carter Benedict, a caterer from Kentucky. Notably, they became Queen Elizabeth's preferred snack due to their delightful freshness and absence of garlic. As a nod to the Old England style High Tea, the cucumber pearls, or spheres, elevate these ordinary sandwiches to an exceptionally royal-worthy nosh.

Since the filling is a no-cook one, the tramezzini are ideal for a summer meal and are as good as when they were created over 100 years ago. The Benedictine cucumber mix holds well overnight, which makes it a perfect last minute appetizer.

Fit for a Queen and the everyday host!


for the Benedictine cucumber spread
Cucumbers 2 - medium size, seeded and chopped
Cream cheese 4 oz (120 g) - softened
Onions 2 tbsp (8 g) - chopped
Mint to taste - fresh
Salt 1 pinch
for the tramezzini
Bread 16 slices - packaged, pre-sliced, soft white
for the cucumber pearls
Cucumber juice ⅓ cup (100 g) - (from preparation above)
calcium chloride ½ tsp (3 g)
Sodium Alginate ½ tsp (1 g)
Water 1 cup (250 ml)

How to prepare the Benedictine cucumber spread

Placed the chopped cucumbers in the bowl of a small food processor with a pinch of salt.

Pulse to chop finely, avoid reducing it to a paste, though. 

Strain the content over a smaller container. Important: keep the cucumber juices!

Let drain for about 30 minutes, pressing occasionally with a spatula.

The cucumbers should release about 1/3 C of water (100ml) roughly. If not, add enough water until you get exactly 1/3 C of liquid.

If needed press with your hands. The cucumbers should be fairly dry.

Meanwhile mince a few leaves of mint, depending on the taste, start with a couple of teaspoons then adjust.

Place the soft cream cheese in the bowl of the same food processor (no need to rinse it) and pulse it with the mint.

Add the drained cucumbers and pulse again to form a cohesive spread. Taste for salt, adjust, and refrigerate.

How to prepare the cucumber "caviar"

This preparation can seem intimidating, in reality is super easy:

1. Dissolve the sodium alginate in the cucumber water obtained from straining the cucumbers.

2. Mix with an immersion blender and let sit 15 minutes. If there are thick bubbles on top, use a spatula to mix gently. Tap the container to release and burst the air bubbles.

3. Prepare the calcium chloride bath by dissolving the calcium chloride in the water. Stir with a spoon until dissolved.

4. Place the sodium alginate mix into a squirt bottle.

5. Slowly pour the content, drop by drop, over the water from about 15 inches high. If the content is too thick and the drops don't come out spherical add water in 1/4 tsp increments and try.

6. The caviar should form instantaneously.

7. Let the caviar sit in the bath no longer than a minute, scoop it out and place it in a clean cold water bath to rinse gently.

8. Strain over a paper towel and use to garnish right away.


Divide the Benedictine cucumber spread evenly among 8 slices of bread. Top with another slice.

Cut out the crust, ensuring an even shape of the sandwich.

Cut diagonally in half again, you will have 16 triangles.

Decorate each sandwich with a few Cucumber pearls, edible greens and flowers.

Serve at once before the bread dries out. The tramezzini should be soft and juicy.