Have a (cheese) Ball this Holiday Season!

Julie VoudrieJulie's Crumbs BlogLeave a Comment

The Christmas season is upon us and with it comes all those holiday parties. Want to bring something homemade but don’t have the time? Cheese balls are super simple to make, delicious to eat, and have a variety of flavor options to suit any taste. Want something elegant where you don’t have to ‘fix’ anything at all? A cheeseboard, filled with a selection of fabulous fromage and tasty treats to pair with them, adds a festive touch with minimal mess.

 

Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball

In a mixing bowl, combine together:

2 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened

¼ cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded

½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons each of finely chopped carrot, onion, celery, and red and green bell peppers

A shot of Worcestershire sauce

½ packet (2 tablespoons) dry Ranch mix

¼ cup cooked, crumbled bacon, plus at least another ¼ cup for the outside later.

Line a small bowl with plastic wrap and plop in the cheese mixture. Wrap the excess wrap around the cheese mixture to form a ball and seal the wrap closed. Leave in the bowl and refrigerate at least one hour. When you remove it from the fridge, it will be firmer but soft enough to round it before removing the wrap and covering the outside of the ball with more crumbled bacon. Leave refrigerated until ready to serve with your favorite crackers or chips.

 

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

In a mixer, combine together:

2 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened

1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)

1 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

Splash of vanilla

1 cup mini chocolate chips, plus ½ cup for the outside

½ cup toasted pecan chips, plus ¼ cup for the outside

Line a small bowl with plastic wrap and plop in the cheese mixture. Wrap the excess wrap around the cheese mixture to form a ball and seal the wrap closed. Leave in the bowl and refrigerate at least two hours, as this one is more soft than the savory one. When you remove it from the fridge, it will be firmer but soft enough to round it before removing the wrap and covering the outside of the ball with a mixture of mini chocolate chips and toasted pecan chips. Leave refrigerated until ready to serve with vanilla wafers, ginger snaps, pretzels, or your personal favorite.

 

Cheese Boards

Recently, I had the pleasure of being invited as an author to the Miami Book Fair, to co-present with my dear friend, Elaine Duran, for her book, You’re Next! Because of her caking story, they placed us with amazing chefs in their Kitchen Stadium and I enjoyed watching their demos and learning about their passion for food. One presenter was Liz Thorpe, an expert on cheese, and she provided the audience with a selection of cheese samples to try together. It was wonderful! Of course, I had to buy her book, called simply enough, The Book of Cheese. No paid endorsement here, but if you want to take the mystery out of fromage, this is the book for you.

I’ll be honest: the only cheese memory I carry over from my Appalachian upbringing was from boxes of Velveeta. I’ve come a long way since then and all of us can learn to enjoy new food experiences. By picking a variety of cheeses, including some that are more familiar for your pickier guests, you can create a splendid feast for the eyes and the palette. I chose an aged Manchego, an aged Gouda, non-flavored Chèvre (goat cheese) that I rolled in dried cranberries, an apple-smoked Cheddar, a buttermilk Bleu cheese and a French double-cream Brie. I added numerous tasty accompaniments for my guests to enjoy, that will pair well with at least one of the cheeses: grapes, apples, dates, smoked almonds, pomegranate seeds, dried fruit, crackers, tomatoes, fig jam, salami, etc. Decorating using pine cones, evergreens and whole fruits, your feast is ready to serve.

 

 

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Julie VoudrieHave a (cheese) Ball this Holiday Season!

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