Bring Back The Cheese Ball
Remember the holiday nut encrusted cheese ball sitting majestically on a throne of Bibb lettuce and surrounded by crackers? It’s back and looking ever so hip with new flavor nuances. I like to ratch up the flavor with dried fruits like figs and apricots but cranberries, dates and dried pear would be nice too. I lighten the taste with mascarpone cheese instead of all cream cheese. This is the perfect holiday nibble and a cinch to make.
8 ounces low fat cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
½ cup finely chopped dried figs (about 6)
½ cup diced dried apricots (about 6)
½ cup dried cranberries, raisins or cherries or a combination
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 cups whole roasted almonds
2 tablespoons melted and cooled apple jelly or marmalade
Confectioners sugar for sprinkling
Crackers for serving
Combine the cheeses, 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil, figs, apricots, cranberries, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl.
Divide and scrape the mixture onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and with your hands form into a pine cone shape. Wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Unwrap and brush each cheese with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Press the almonds into the cheese, covering it completely and keeping the shape of a pine cone.
Gently brush the nuts with the melted jelly. Use a small sieve and coat the top in confectioners sugar. Serve at room temperature with plain crackers.