A Holiday party is on another level, so you need hors d'oeuvres on another level. This Cheese Ball is just the thing. Sharp Cheddar and Blue Cheese, perfectly countered with Cream Cheese and seasoned for the Holidays with Horseradish, Worchestershire, and a bit of red pepper. Covered with crushed pecans, this delicious nosh will certainly get everyone's attention. Be ready to hand out the recipe, because they will be asking for it.
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Why is this recipe so special?
This is another recipe from my mother’s collection. The MU (Mother Unit) loved to entertain, especially during the holidays, and this was one of her go-to hors d'oeuvre. You'll find variations of Cheese Balls in lots of South Louisiana cookbooks, indicating it's a popular offering at the Holiday shindig. The tangy blue cheese and horseradish provide a festive zing that garners lots of attention.
What to serve this Chees Ball with:
Serve this Cheese Ball with hearty crackers (Triscuits are my favorite for this) or french bread toast. You can also serve it with celery, carrots, or cucumbers.
Here’s What You Need
Here are some of the key ingredients for this recipe:
See the Hints and Tips Section (FAQs) below for suggestions on possible substitutes.
Here is some of the equipment I used in making this recipe:
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Here’s What You Do
First…you have a beer. Easy-peasy recipe, but let's get prepared. Sip a beer while you read the recipe all the way through. Knowing what you need and what you're going to do with each ingredient and equipment will take all the guessing away. Even when it's simple, you should still perform your mise en place.
Mise en place
The cheese needs to be soft when you mix them together. Set out the cream cheese and blue cheese to soften for at least an hour before using.
Note on Blue Cheese: You can decide not to soften the Blue Cheese prior to mixing so there would be chunks of blue cheese throughout the cheese balls instead of having it blended with the other cheese. I usually soften it, but it is an interesting texture having the chunks.
Grate the cheddar cheese before you let it soften, it's just easier that way.
Measure the Worcestershire, horseradish, and cayenne (if using). Have the Tabasco handy so you can shoot a few shots while mixing.
Run the pecans through a small food processor and crush them into very small pieces.
Combining the ingredients
Combine cheese in a mixing bowl and mix on low speed until incorporated.
Note on the Mixer: I find it so easy to whip this together using a stand mixer. However, if you don't have a stand mixer, a hand mixer will do, as would simply mixing it by hand with a spoon or spatula. If you end up mixing it by hand, the softer the cheese, the easier that will be.
Maintaining a low speed, add the Tabasco, horseradish, Worcestershire, and Cayenne (if using).
Shaping the Balls
Once you have the ingredients thoroughly mixed, roll the cheese mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper or similar onto a baking sheet or large plate. Using your hands, form the mixture into one or two dome-shaped mounds.
Pro Tip: You can make one larger ball or two smaller balls depending on your needs. This freezes very well, so you can make two and save one for later. See the FAQs below about freezing.
Pro Tip: The cheese mixture should be very sticky and soft at this point. Here, we just want to get a rough shape, it does not have to be perfect. We'll let it sit in the fridge to firm up a bit before shaping it like it's ready for the party!
Place the baking sheet or plate into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
After fifteen minutes, the cheese will firm up enough to complete the shaping of the perfect cheese ball. Once that's done, stick it back in the fridge for another fifteen minutes.
Pro Tip: My process is to make a rough ball, then refrigerate it to firm it up slightly. Shape the balls, then stick them back in the fridge to get them even firmer for when you start to add the pecans. Alternatively, you could place the entire mixing bowl in the fridge for the first 15 minutes, then pull the cheese out and shape the balls.
Coat with crushed Pecans
Spread the crushed pecans evenly on a baking sheet.
Remove the cheese balls from the refrigerator and give them a final shape. Roll the cheese balls in the pecans to cover the outside with crushed pecans.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Hints and Tips (FAQs)
Yes, you can freeze this Cheese Ball for up to four weeks. Make sure to tightly wrap it in plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. I prefer to use vacuum seal bags. Place the Cheese Ball on a sheet pan and allow it to freeze before using the vacuum sealer. This way the pressure of sealing will not distort the shape. Defrost the Cheese Ball in the fridge overnight.
The Cheese Ball can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, covered with aluminum foil.
Yes, you can substitute any cheese you would like, but remember this particular flavor profile is derived from the proportional blend of these particular cheeses. See below for specific substitutes.
Feta cheese is a suitable substitute for blue cheese. It is milder than blue cheese but still has a bit of tang. You could also substitute Gorgonzola, which is an Italian blue cheese and is an almost perfect match, taste-wise.
Mascarpone and Neufchâtel are similar to Cream Cheese and are suitable substitutes.
American cheese and Colby Cheese are similar in nature to most cheddars and would be good substitutes. You can also use mild or extra sharp cheddar (either white or yellow) for a change of pace. Even swiss or gouda could be used, although these would definitely change the flavor profile. Other varieties of cheddar may be appealing to you: smoked or aged cheddar may make interesting contributions to the flavor profile.
Like most foods, bacteria will grow if it's allowed to stay too long in the "danger zone". That's between temperatures of 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of time. It's generally thought that a Cheese Ball should not stay on the counter longer than 4 hours without further refrigeration. Setting the cheese plate on ice may extend that period. Since I am no expert on food safety, I found this article published by Bon Appetit called "How Long Can Cheese Sit Out Before You Die?" very helpful
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Yeah You Right!
Here's What You Need
- 8 ounces blue cheese
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
- 16 ounces cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- Dash Tabasco
- Dash kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper optional, but recommended
- ½ cup crushed pecans
Here's What You Do
- Set out the cream cheese and blue cheese to soften
- Grate the cheddar cheese, then let it soften
- Measure the remaining ingredients.
- Run the pecans through a small food processor and crush them into very small pieces.
- Combine cheeses in a mixing bowl and mix on low speed until incorporated.
- Maintaining low speed, add all other ingredients except pecans.
- When thoroughly mixed, roll the cheese mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper (or similar) placed on a baking sheet or large plate.
- Using your hands, roll the mixture into one or two dome-shaped mounds. (NOTE: This can be kind of rough)
- Place the baking sheet or plate into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
- Remove the cheese balls from the refrigerator and finish shaping them into small domes or balls. Return to the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Spread crushed pecans on a baking sheet.
- Roll the cheese balls in the pecans to cover the outside with crushed pecans.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving; serve with crackers.