Sunday, January 03, 2010

Sherry-Almond Cheese Ball

Continuing the effort at getting recipes out on the blog after being so quiet over the holidays, here's another winter entertainment snack from my Athens Banner-Herald column from early December.

The much-maligned, if inevitable, American cheese ball got reworked with sherry and ground almonds. I used to tire of the once-trendy cheese ball, but somehow always ate some of it if it was there. Recognizing its presence as a reality, I at least put a couple of my favorite flavors in it.

Sherried Almond Cheese Ball

Almond butter, available at natural food stores and some supermarkets, provides the roasted almonds for this. The cheeses are available at the supermarket.

This recipe makes two cheese balls. Surround with roasted, unsalted almonds for an extra treat, if desired.

8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 pound sharp cheddar or Jarlsberg cheese, grated
1/4 pound Asiago cheese (domestic), grated
1/2 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons golden or Amontillado sherry
Green part of 1 large scallion (green onion), finely minced, or 3 teaspoons minced chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Paprika or minced parsley for garnish
1 cup roasted almonds for garnish (optional)

In large bowl, mash cream cheese with fork. Mix in remaining ingredients except for garnishes.

Taste, and add salt if needed (Asiago can be salty).

Shape the soft mixture into two balls. Sprinkle lightly all over with paprika or parsley. Wrap each with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, or up to 3 days.

With plastic wrap still on, pat cheese balls perfectly round and smooth.

Serve on a dish. Sprinkle again lightly with paprika or parsley. Surround with roasted almonds, if desired.

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