Festive Cheese Ball
Makes 1 large or 2 small balls
This cheese ball recipe is, without a doubt, the best I have ever tasted. My mother was making it as long as I can remember. It is a quick and easy cheese spread for any kind of entertaining, but the colors from the red paprika and green parsley make it especially festive for holiday parties. I always use extra sharp white cheddar cheese, but you can use any grade of sharp to suit your taste. If, like me, you are not a big fan of blue cheese, don't let that stop you. It adds just a hint of tangy flavor that blends so well with the other cheeses and seasonings, you really don't recognize it. This is best served with relatively mild-flavored crackers.
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (can use reduced fat)
- 2 ounces blue cheese, softened
- 2 ounces extra sharp cheese, grated
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
- 3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped, divided (see notes below)
- About 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- About 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes (see notes below)
Cream the cream cheese. Blend in the blue cheese, sharp cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, cayenne, Tabasco and half of the nuts. Form into one large or two small balls. Mix together the remaining nuts, paprika and parsley. Roll the ball into the nut mixture. Chill, bringing to room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.
Notes: To toast pecans, place on a baking sheet in a preheated 350° oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned, being careful not to burn. The paprika and parsley are used mainly for color, though they do impart flavor to the nutty coating. If you know you are serving the cheeseball within a short time, you could use fresh parsley. However, that will eventually lose its vibrant color, so I usually use dried. If you need more color, add more parsley, but go easy on the paprika. The cheese ball can be made ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap, placed in a sealable bag, and refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen for several months. The recipe can be easily halved or doubled.