Thursday, December 31, 2009


The cheese ball is something that you either love or hate. I know of few people who kind of like cheese balls, but I do not doubt that such an animal exists. I've made this cheese ball for over 10 years and count on this humble party food staple to stretch my snack table without breaking the bank. The flavor is creamy and savory with the added benefit of chopped pecans that enrobe the pale yellow delight. I like this served with crackers, pretzels, pita chips, or bagel bites. I've even seen some folks put this on an apple and eat it, but don't count on me to confirm whether or not this cheese ball is good on an apple! Let's get started and we'll talk about some really cool and different ways to present this cheese ball. Well, ok, you can use my ideas for your cheese ball recipe if you want--I guess.
Here's what you will need to pull this thin off, the ingredient list is super easy:

16 oz. Cream Cheese

16 oz. Cheddar Cheese (I usually use a cheese blend)

One onion

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Rough chop the onion and place it in the bowl of a food processor. Add one block of the cream cheese and seasoned salt. Pulse until the mixture is smooth and combined. You do not have to have a food processor to make this cheese ball. I like to use a food processor because it really gets the onion minced up. If you don't have a food processor I would suggest that you either grate the onion, or chop the dickens out of the onions to make them super minced and mushy. Your goal is to have a creamy and smooth mouth feel.

After you have pulsed the onion, half of the cream cheese, and seasoned salt together, go ahead and add in the Worcestershire sauce and give it another pulse. This is what gives the mixture it's pale yellowish brown appearance. Once you have pulsed together these four ingredients, dump it into a large bowl, we will have to go manual from here on out.
This set of Pyrex mixing bowls is close to my heart. I'm writing this post from my Mom's house in Missouri, which explains the better quality of my cell phone photographs because she has fluorescent lighting. Anyway, these bowls have been with me my entire cooking life. I learned to cook using these, and many other tools that Mom still has. We won't talk about the can of cloves that she has in her spice cabinet that has a date stamp of 1972!
So, after your little trip down memory lane. Dump the mixture you've pulsed into the sentimental Pyrex mixing bowl (that mushroom design is really ugly, what were they thinking?) and add the other 8 oz. of cream cheese and the grated cheese blend. Get busy with a sturdy spoon of silicone spatula and mix until the cream cheese is completely combined and smooth. If you food processor bowl is large, you can do this step in that bowl. Mom's is only a 2-cup processor.

If you like to get your hands dirty and want to skip this next step feel free. Who am I to judge. I like to get a small bowl and place some plastic wrap in the bowl, then dump the mixture into the bowl so I can form the cheese ball into...well a ball shape. It's really much easier to me.

This is what the mixture looks like when you get it into the bowl. Just fold over the plastic wrap and press lightly to form the cheese ball into a dome shape. From this point you can place the bowl in the fridge and keep it until ready to use, or you can peel off the plastic wrap and flip the cheese ball onto a plate, peeling the plastic wrap off. Use that spatula or spoon to smooth over the rough places. Press in the chopped pecans.
This cheese ball is really at it's best flavor once is has a few hours to recover and pull itself together. The Worcestershire sauce and onion really love each other and come to the flavor party big time, they are somewhat cocky and try to take over, but never fear the cheese is the true star of this show.
Ok, now for the ideas I promised:
  • You can roll this cheese ball in other things. You could use sliced almonds and "tile" your cheese ball, which would be really sharp. Paprika or parsley are other toppings that make this cheese ball really delicious.
  • Place your plastic wrap on the counter, and lay the mixture out in a log. Roll the plastic wrap up around the cheese ball. Using your hands shape the cheese log into it's long log form. Then roll in whichever topping you wish to use.
  • This doesn't have to be a cheese ball at all! Mix the chopped pecans into the mixture and place the entire mixture into a container with a tight fitting lid and you have a super spread that you can pull out for a snack, or super casual card or game party. This will keep for a week or more (it won't last that long, trust me.)
  • Substitute hot sauce for the Worcestershire sauce and everything changes. This mild mannered little cheese ball becomes a super spicy whippersnapper.
  • Finally, here's the best idea. Cheese ball pops! Use a spring loaded scoop, and drop the mixture onto a waxed paper lined cookie sheet. Chill for 30 minutes to let the cheese pops set up, then remove from the fridge and roll in pecans or the afor mentioned toppings. Finally poke in a pretzel stick and viola you have a cheese ball pop. Place these on your serving platter. This idea is really cool, because it takes the humble cheese ball to a whole new level and totally impresses your guests.

Give this yummy, yummy treat a try I think you'll agree its super good.

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