I found a forgotten jar of gourmet mango chutney in my pantry, and added a few tablespoons of it to the base recipe of cream cheese and butter, substituting aged cheddar for the smoked gouda in Amy's recipe. Inspired by the pink grocery store cheese ball that my parents usually have on hand, I added a generous glug of port to the mixture. Then, for extra flavour, colour, and texture, I folded in a handful of chopped dried cranberries. Finally, I rolled the cheese ball in a mixture of chopped toasted pecans and walnuts.
This cheese ball couldn't be more different from the earlier version, but it was a fantastic and festive appetizer. The mango chutney and port brought a lot of sweetness to the mixture, which was balanced nicely with the tartness of the cranberries and the sharpness of the aged cheddar. Once again, the toasted nuts brought the taste and texture of the cheese ball to the next level.
I enjoyed this cheese ball as part of a finger food buffet dinner, spread on rice crackers and crostini, and as breakfast the following morning on 7-grain crackers with a big mug of coffee (over the holidays, I will eat absolutely any leftover for my first meal of the day. I think it's a big part of what makes Christmas special).
I'm excited to try even more cheese ball variations. With a great base recipe and tasty additions, how could it go wrong? How about, in 2010, we all live on the wild side, and experiment with our recipes? Try something new, share your results with your loved ones, and feel warm and fuzzy as you stuff yourself silly. Cheers!
Holiday Cheeseball: The Recipe
2 sticks cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese (I used 4 yr old Canadian)
2 tbsp mango chutney
1/4 cup port
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
2 cups toasted pecans and/or walnuts, chopped
To toast nuts, spread on a cookie sheet and into a 350F oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool, then chop.
Using an electric mixer, mix cream cheese, butter, and grated cheese. Stir in mango chutney and port. Fold in cranberries. Let mixture chill overnight.
Form mixture into two balls. Roll into chopped nuts, pressing them into the cheeseball. Serve with crostini and/or crackers.