Holiday 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 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 oz low fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 oz ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dried figs (about 6)
- 1/2 cup diced dried apricots (about 6)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins or cherries or a combination
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 2 cups whole roasted almonds
- 2 tbsp melted and cooled apple jelly or marmalade
- Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
- Crackers for serving
- In a large bowl combine all cheeses, add 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil. then and blend in figs, apricots, cranberries, salt and nutmeg
- Divide and scrape the mixture onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and with your hands form into a pinecone shape. Wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
- Unwrap and brush cheese ball with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Press the almonds into the cheese, covering it completely and keeping the shape of a pinecone.
- 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.
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