A handful of simple ingredients that go together in minutes, three fun flavorful options…these creamy cheese balls from our Test Kitchen are a darling, do-ahead delight for busy holiday hostesses! Why not whip up several batches? Packaged in colored plastic wrap and tied with bright ribbons, they also make quick and easy gifts for friends, drop-in visitors, shut-ins and neighbors.
- 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- PINE NUT-PESTO CHEESE BALL:
- 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted, divided
- HORSERADISH-BACON CHEESE BALL:
- 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- SALSA CHEESE BALL:
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno pepper
- Assorted crackers
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and garlic until blended. Divide into three portions.
- For Pine Nut-Pesto Cheese Ball: In a small bowl, beat one portion of cream cheese mixture and pesto until blended. Stir in basil. Chop 2 tablespoons pine nuts; stir into cheese mixture. Shape into a ball; roll in remaining pine nuts. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill until firm.
- For Horseradish-Bacon Cheese Ball: In a small bowl, beat one portion of cream cheese mixture and horseradish until blended. Stir in bacon and onion. Shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill until firm.
- For Salsa Cheese Ball: In a small bowl, beat one portion of cream cheese mixture, tomato paste and salt until blended. Stir in the cilantro, onion and jalapeno. Shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill until firm.
- Can refrigerate for up to two weeks. Serve with crackers. Yield: 3 cheese balls (1 cup each).
Originally published as Celebration Cheese Balls in Cooking for 2 Winter 2008, p14
Light-Bodied White Wine
Enjoy this recipe with a light-bodied white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
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