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


  1. In a large bowl combine all cheeses, add 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil. then and blend in figs, apricots, cranberries, salt and nutmeg
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Gently brush the nuts with the melted jelly. Use a small sieve and coat the top in confectioners' sugar.
  5. Serve at room temperature with plain crackers.
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