OK, cheese balls can be a bit less than elegant. They make you think of those port wine-flavored cheese balls, rolled in soggy nuts that your grandmother used to serve at her get-togethers.
Well, the cheese balls I made, from Cook's Country magazine, are quite different. They're flavorful, full of real cheese and other tasty ingredients. Best of all, they're so simple to make, that they're perfect for any holiday gathering.
So as I promised my visitors on Friday night, here are the recipes. Cook's Country has a number of variations, but these are the two that I made. You really should try them!
CLASSIC CHEDDAR CHEESE BALL
You'll need 8 oz of block cheddar to yield 2 cups of shredded cheese. I highly recommend you grate your own instead of using pre-shredded cheese.
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- Process cheddar, cream cheese, mayo, Worcestershire, garlic and cayenne in food processor until smooth.
- Transfer cheese mixture to center of large sheet of plastic wrap and tightly wrap, shaping cheese into a rough ball. (Holding the four corners of the plastic in one hand, twist the cheese with the other hand to seal the plastic and shape into a ball. See photo.) Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hrs (or up to 2 days).
- Once the cheese ball is firm, reshape as necessary to form a smooth ball. Unwrap and roll in the almonds to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 15 min. Serve.
BACON-RANCH CHEESE BALL
Prepare Classic Cheddar Cheese Ball, omitting Worcestershire and cayenne. Add 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or dill, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp onion powder and a pinch sugar to food processor in Stop 1. Replace almonds with 6 slices of cooked an crumbled bacon in Step 3.