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Could the modest cheese ball be the perfect party food? What's not to love about a cheese ball? It can be savory or sweet. It can be shaped like a ball, football, Christmas tree or whatever you want it to be. Its shape is limited only by your creativity.

I'm going to date myself, but in the late eighties while in college, one thing you could always depend upon at a Christmas party was at least one cheese ball. It was usually round and covered in finely chopped pecans. If you wanted to be the cool host or guest, you brought a cheese ball. It was a must party-favorite food to bring. There is something about a creamy scoop-able cheese that brings people together. Blue Cheese, Green Chili, Dried Fruit, Chocolate Chip, Cherry Cheesecake, all these are types of cheese balls you can make. Savory or sweet, they can't be beat.

Why is it that we don't see much of cheese balls anymore? You can easily tailor them to your tastebuds! Plus, they are great to make ahead. In fact, you can make the base of the cheese ball 2 days ahead of serving. Just add the crust the day you are serving it. Doing so any earlier will make your toppings soggy.

Cheese balls are great if you are on a budget. You can make it last longer by stretching it. For example, if you're having a party on Monday, you can also entertain on Tuesday or Wednesday by just saving the ball and reshaping it. Assuming that it has been kept under refrigeration and other food safety measures have been followed.

I love pecans on a cheese ball. But there are so many other options, walnuts, almonds all add a nice texture. If you are using nuts, they need to be chopped up small.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to let the finished cheese ball rest in the refrigerator. An hour minimum is needed to allow the cheese ball to firm up and let the flavors come together.

Cheese balls hold their shape well, making them perfect to take to potlucks! Imagine what cheese ball you will bring to your next potluck.

Dig in! Serve your cheese ball with an assortment of crackers and even fresh veggiescarrot and celery sticks are delicious, while graham crackers, or chocolate wafers make the sweet cheese ball a treat.

Your guests will love this sweet, Mini Toffee Bit/Chocolate Chip Cheese ball. Making it with low fat cream cheese will result in a less firm cheese ball, so use only whole cream cheese and real butter. Think of it as supporting our dairy farmers!

 

Holiday Cheese Ball Two Ways
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

cup butter, softened

cup confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

teaspoon vanilla extract

cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

OR

cup miniature toffee bits

cup finely chopped pecans

1 box graham crackers or chocolate wafers

 

In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in confectioners' sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips or toffee bits. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Shape chilled cream cheese mixture into a ball. Wrap with plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll the cheese ball in finely chopped pecans before serving. Serve with graham crackers or chocolate wafers.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609. We're online at [email protected], on Facebook and Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.

 

Carla Due is a county extension agent-staff chair with the Miller County Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

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