My boyfriend mentioned that he likes cheese balls (wads of cream cheese, shredded cheese, some kind of fruit, rolled in nuts). So, with my extra two blocks of Thanksgiving cream cheese, I decided to take a shot at making my own version. Here’s my half-assed recipe. (Meant to be eaten on crackers, bread, or fingers.)
Ingredients shall be followed by the appropriate directions. Feel free to pick it up wherever you like.
Cream cheese– Two 8 oz. blocks made a nice big ball, once the rest of the ingredients were added. A standing mixer is REALLY USEFUL right now, to whip it smooth.
Sour cream– About 2 heaping tablespoonfuls. Add to the cream cheese, continue to mix smooth. This is the base; from here, all you need to do is pick complimentary flavors in the categories I shall tell you of 😉
Alcohol– To suit the flavors (also helps preserve it long-term, if you expects it to last that long). I didn’t use any, but I could have used a sweet one, like Frangelico or Chambord, to compliment the fruit. A spicy ball could take a hit of tequila, for example. Explore and personalize your very own balls. If you decided on booze, add now and mix into the cream mix.
Seasonings– I kept it simple with about a teaspoon each of black pepper and powdered garlic. You can use premade mixes, too, like taco seasoning, pumpkin spice, Italian seasoning. Try a bit of ranch dressing mix, or maybe some french onion soup powder. A little goes a long way, so taste often and start small. Add to the mixer and mix thoroughly.
Cheese– I used a sharp cheddar. I grated 2 cups or so because we like cheese. You could use mozzarella, Jack, Bleu (just crumble first)- whatever you like that fits well with the other flavors. Mix the chosen cheese in by hand, folding it in with a spatula or spoon. Try to get a nice, even mix.
Fruit– I didn’t think that it would help a lot, but it really did. I used papaya, a couple thumb-lengths, minced fine, and mixed it in. Any dry fruit would do- cherries, raisins, cranberries, pineapple, mango, papaya- all are options. It provides a counterpoint to the savory of the rest of the mixture (in my case, anyway) and added visual appeal. Not that visual appeal matters that much, not if it tastes good XD Anyway, mix in the chosen fruit by hand.
Now we shape the ball. You may have to chill it in the bowl for a little while before shaping, just so it doesn’t slump. Plop the mix into the middle of a sheet of plastic wrap. Pull up the edges, by opposite corners, and form a vaguely ball-like mass. Set this into the fridge to chill further.
Nuts– While the ball chills, prep the nuts. I used a mix of walnuts and pecans because we had them. Use what you like. Chop them to the size you like; if you like whole halves, more power to you.
Spread the nuts out on a plate. When your ball is firm to the touch and doesn’t slump (say, an hour (ish), or whenever you get to it), unwrap the ball and put it on the plate. Pat the nuts into the surface. Roll it in the nuts. Impregnate the ball with their delicious essence.
At this point, you can wrap it up in plastic again and freeze for later (if you do, allow a day or overnight to thaw, in the fridge, before serving), or put it on a plate and refrigerate until it gets eaten. You can slice it, spoon it, cracker it to your heart’s content.