This sauce starts off as an Alfredo Sauce... Then artichoke, garlic, and cream cheese are added.
The Cream cheese makes the sauce more dip-able.
4 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
1 cup butter (2 sticks) - don't skimp
1 cup HEAVY Cream [not a lighter cream]
1 can (12-15 oz) Artichoke Hearts, quartered
1 2/3 cups Shredded Parmesan Cheese (1 bag)
1 Block (8 oz) Cream cheese, or *Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
Abundant Black Pepper
Salt to taste (Cautiously)
Preheat the empty 9x9 baking dish in a 350 °F oven for about 15 minutes, or until hot.Meanwhile, heat saucepan to medium-low and sauté garlic until softened. Do not brown garlic or it becomes bitter. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Drain artichokes. If desired, rinse artichokes to remove extra salt from the brine. Towel dry and chop into ½ inch pieces.
Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, return the pan to the heat and melt the butter. The butter will begin to bubble, this is the water evaporating. Allow to bubble for 1 - 2 minutes then watch carefully so it does not burn. I wouldn't restart if it just browns, but the flavor will be different.
Add cream and warm to barely simmering. Reserve a handful of Parmesan - then add the rest of the cheese to the butter/ cream mixture. The goal is to very gently heat the cheese in barely hot (enough) cream. If the heat is too high the bottom will scorch.
If it's your first time making an Alfredo sauce, there is no harm is starting low and bringing it up very slowly - it's better to be safe-than-sorry because...
... there is no way to rescue $15 worth of burnt butter, cream, and cheese.
Stir intermittently until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the cream cheese and continue heating on low just until the cream cheese has melted. Add black pepper, sauteed garlic, and the chopped artichokes.
*It MIGHT be possible to substitute lower fat cream cheese after the Alfredo is made, if you remove it from the heat and allow the residual heat to melt the cream cheese. (If you try this, let me know how it works for you.)
Taste, THEN add salt - both the canned artichokes and the cream cheese have varying levels of salt. Even if you LOVE salt, it's easy to overdo here unless you wait until this point to season. Remember to take the saltiness of the dippers into account, i.e.
Taste the sauce with a chip, not just a spoon.
Pour in a 9x9 square baking dish (ideally pre-warmed in a 350 ). Top with a scant handful of Parmesan and broil until just barely browned. If the covering of cheese is too heavy, the Parmesan melts into a top crust that makes it tricky to spoon nicely (purely cosmetic).
Serve with Tortilla chips, baby carrots or celery sticks, and toasted Garlic Bread rounds.This dip does not reheat well, but it should “go” pretty well so you won't have much left! Serves 8 hungry guests if no other appetizers are served. Closer to 12-16 servings if each guest only has 2-3 spoons.