Photo by: Sheri Giblin
Cheese balls were all the rage in the 1970s, an easy, tasty, fab party food for any occasion. What’s old is now retro-chic—this lightened-up cheese ball seduces with the sweetness of dates, the savory bite of blue cheese, a hint of shallot, and a teasing whiff of lemon zest.
Yield: Makes about 1½ cups (360ml)
- 8 oz (225g) of low-fat cream cheese (bar style), at room temperature
- 1 cup (115g) crumbled blue cheese, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp reduced-fat buttermilk
- 3 tbsp minced medjool dates (5 or 6 pitted dates)
- 1 tbsp minced shallots
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- ¼ tsp kosher or sea salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
- 2 tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2½ tbsp finely chopped toasted walnuts (see Notes)
- Crostini, baked pita chips, baked bagel chips, marbled rye toasts, celery and carrot sticks
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, blue cheese, and buttermilk on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the dates, shallots, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and beat until well combined.
2. Transfer the cheese mixture to a large sheet of plastic wrap/cling film and form it into a ball. Wrap the ball in the wrap/film and refrigerate until well chilied, at least 2 hours or overnight.
3. In a shallow bowl or plate, mix together the parsley and walnuts. Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator. With the wrap/film still on, shape into a well-formed ball. Unwrap the cheese mixture and roll it gently in the nut mixture until all sides are well covered. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
© 2010 Diane Morgan
Dip Do-Ahead: The cheese ball can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate.
Toasting Nuts and Seeds:
Toasting pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds brings out their fullest, richest flavor. Place the nuts or seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet/tray and bake in a preheated 350°F/180°C/gas 4, oven until lightly browned. 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the nut or seed. Alternatively, nuts and seeds can be browned in a microwave. Place in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high power for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring once or twice while they are toasting. Watch carefully that they don’t burn.
Nutritional information is provided by the author.
Serving Size: 2 tbsp