December is the month of appetizer recipes in our house. Between the rush of Christmas shopping, party hopping, and school performances, it’s a blur of a month when meals tend to happen catch-as-catch-can (or eat-as-eat-can). The real dinners can be few and far between. Also, as I prepare for our annual White Elephant Christmas party (11 years and running!), I tend to spend the days leading up to it testing out appetizer recipes I might want to serve. So it ends up being a month of foraging, nibbling, and hors d’oeuvre-ing.
Last week as I was attempting to finalize the Christmas party menu, I tried out a cheese ball recipe on my family. (That sounds a little vague. I mean, like, I had them eat it. Not like I threw it at them like a softball or slathered them in it like sunscreen.) This is NOT that cheese ball recipe. I think the best word to describe that one would be “meh.” It had good bones–ingredients you would think would have made it a winner of an appetizer: cream cheese, white cheddar, pecans, cranberries. But something was lacking. I decided to take matters into my own hands and concoct my own cheese ball recipe. (I know, I like to live dangerously.) In the end, I came up with something I could hardly keep myself from eating in its entirety before the party. The secret? Turning it into something more sweet than savory. With honey, goat cheese, and orange zest, this cheese ball has just the right amount of sweetness to parallel the cranberries studding its exterior. I can’t wait to serve it!
Cranberry-Orange White Cheddar Cheese Ball
A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
5 oz. chèvre (creamy goat cheese)
4 oz. shredded white cheddar
1/4 c. honey
Zest of 1 medium orange
1/2 c. chopped pecans
12 oz. dried cranberries
- In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, chèvre, honey, and orange zest until smooth. Add pecans and gently stir to incorporate. Form into a ball with your hands.
- Pour about half of the dried cranberries into a shallow dish. Set cheese ball on top and carefully press cranberries up the sides. Pour remaining cranberries over the top, pressing in to cover the entire surface of the ball.
- Refrigerate, wrapped in plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with crackers and/or apple slices.
Serves about 12 as an appetizer.