Sunday, February 16, 2020

Say Cheese! Balls

Until a recent request from my brother in law, I hadn't made a cheese ball since that time, way back when, and by that I mean high school, maybe college.  I had forgotten how delicious an orb of various cheeses, tangy, nutty, creamy and rich, sharp and mild, crumbled and spreadable could be.  I am glad I still have it in me and jumped to the call of presenting well.
The cheeses I chose for this decadent and toasty 'smear campaign' had to hit all the right notes.  It had to have body and melding flavors, some soft, some pungent, some distinct, some mild and just going with flow.  With that in mind I chose Sharp and Mild Cheddar, Vermont White Cheddar, Blue, Havarti and of course cream cheese as the base.  I also included some drained and pressed out pineapple to add contrast and texture, along with a very subtle and welcome sweetness.
 This recipe made for two very good sized cheese balls,  about 3 lbs. each, perfect for the upcoming occasions of Turkey Day and when Ole Saint Nick comes to town.  Heck, it's great just to have to snack on at home and when "Netflix and Chilling" or checking out the new Disney Subscription.
You may also divide the cheese mixture into 2 to 4 smaller balls and roll in different coatings like buttery crackers, fresh chopped herbs or a different type of nut, even dried fruits or shredded cheese!  The flavor course will be much better when you allow the flavors to marry, while chilling in the fridge!  Don't forget about the upcoming St. Patricks Day, Socials, Potlucks,  Spring Break, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day...there's always a reason and season for 'cheesin!

4- 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
2 pkg. Neufchatel, or reduced fat cream cheese
8 oz. EACH, Sharp Cheddar, Extra Sharp Cheddar and Cheddar Cheese Trio
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
4 oz. Havarti, shredded
2/3 c. crushed pineapple in natural juices, well drained, reserving 2 tbsp. of juice
2/3 c. mayonnaise or sour cream
1/4 c. fresh Dill, torn or rough chopped
2 tbsp. grated onion, with juice
1/2 tsp. EACH, onion powder and garlic powder
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
8 oz.  Pecan Halves, toasted and rough crushed
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

Bring the cream cheeses up to room temperature.
Combine all ingredients except the pineapple, Cheddar cheeses, blue cheese and pecans (or whatever coating you choose) nuts or herbs in a large bowl or in your stand mixer, which makes it hella easier to blend.
After the bulk of the ingredients have blended until smooth, add the Cheddar cheeses, pineapple and blue cheese crumbles, blending until just combined and distributed throughout. Turn off mixer.
Toast the Pecans in a dry hot pan, tossing frequently as not to burn or scorch, until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Set aside to cool and crush unevenly with rolling pin or something solid.
Place crushed nuts into shallow vessel with lots of room to shake around.
Pour cheese out onto spacious surface and divide into 2 piles, on separate sheets of plastic wrap. 
 Shape the cheese into ball using the wrap as the barrier for your hands, then one at a time, turn out into crushed nuts and coat as desired.
Remove and place onto a clean piece of plastic wrap, gathering up by sides and twist to form a ball shape so it can set.
Place on plate or flat pan, twisted side down.
Repeat with second pile of cheese mixture.
Refrigerate for several hours, allowing the flavors to marry for maximum deliciousness.
Allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or more before serving.
Serve with crackers, veggies, fruit, toast points as desired.
For a fantastic twist on a favorite, melt slices of cheeseball onto nachos or a hot juicy burger for a flavor  and tastebud explosion!
Serves plenty with leftovers, maybe. ;)

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