I didn’t used to like cheese ball. In fact, the stereotypical cheese ball that I — and maybe you, too — grew up with still is a horrible thing to ponder, at least for me. It brings up memories of some nasty fake cheddar “cheese” with an embellishment of what some called “Port Wine” and then rolled in nuts. You cut into it and it was just this orange blob the color of Tang (do you remember Tang?). Not natural, not flavorful but it was the ubiquitous appetizer of the holiday season.
One year, my mother threatened to MAKE a cheese ball. Why would she do that to us?
I don’t know where she got the original recipe, but it contained several elements I hadn’t considered in the context of cheese ball. Cream Cheese, green onions, olives — olives? — nuts and…the thing that sealed the deal: blue cheese! Glorious, creamy, rich blue cheese. I mean, with a list of those ingredients, what could go wrong. And, not only are there nuts on the outside, there’s a bit of the crunchy wonderfulness on the inside, too.
Well, let’s say I’ve never looked at Cheese Ball again the same way. This is part of every Christmas Eve pre-dinner and, while I’ve made a few changes along the way, I remain true to the original spirit. Serve it alone as the appetizer centerpiece with crackers, maybe a few more olives and some apple or pear slices or as part of a larger charcuterie plate. Either way, I defy you to have any leftover, but if you do, you can just re-roll it into a ball and it’ll look just as good as when you first served it…only smaller.
World’s Best Cheese Ball
- 2 8 oz packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature
- 3-4 oz Blue Cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 3 oz can chopped black olives, drained
- 3 Tbsp chopped chives or green onions (Green parts only)
- 8 oz walnuts, chopped
- Set aside 1/2 of the chopped walnuts.
- Combine all remaining ingredients. Shape mixture into 2 balls. Roll balls in reserved walnuts.
- Wrap in plastic wrap to store.
- To serve, allow cheese ball to come to room temperature. Serve with crackers, green apples, grapes, etc.