food blog: cheese and almond pine cone cheeseball
i made 6 different kinds this year, went through 2 1/2 pounds of cream cheese (a big box worth from Costco. yay costco), 4 pounds of shredded cheddar/jack cheese mix (yay costco), a block of sharp Irish coastal cheddar, a pound of applewood smoked bacon, and probably increased the average lipid count in northern california by a couple of points.
i'll just treat you all to one of them, because i got a picture of it.
Cheese ball pine cone with Marcona almonds
- 1 1/2 lb. Cream Cheese. That's three 8 ounce packages, or a big chunk hacked of the cheese brick in a box.
- 2 cups shredded cheddar and jack mix (straight extra sharp cheddar works really well here too.) Thats about 8 ounces or so.
- 1/4 of a yellow onion, grated on a box grater
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. back off that to 2 tsp if serving to lightweights.
- 4 cloves minced garlic. I used the garlic press for this. Works like a champ.
- Marcona Spanish almonds, as many as it takes to cover. ok, it doesn't have to be Marcona almonds, but they are family favorites, so i found them and used them. Regular blanched almonds, roasted in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes were what the core recipe i stole used. if you really have way too much time on your hands, and are somewhat obsessive, a bag of sliced almonds can be used to mimic the pinecone petals, covering the dammit entirely. send me a picture if you do. i promise not to laugh. honest.
- sprigs of fresh rosemary for decorations, if you have them.
Let the cheeses come to room temperature before starting. Beat the cream cheese in a mixer until fluffy. then add the cheddar/jack cheese, the onion, the garlic, and the Worcestershire sauce. Mix until everything is blended together. scrape the side of the bowl a couple of times to make sure everything gets incorporated. wrap the mix in plastic film and refrigerate until firm. I let it stand overnight to allow all the flavors to meld. when it's just mixed, the taste isn't anything to write home about. so let it stand overnight in the fridge. you'll get better results. when firm, remove the cheese and let stand for a little while at room temperature. keeping the cheeseball in the film, roll it and shape it to resemble a pine cone. unwrap and stick almonds all over it so that it looks like the petals of a pine cone. garnish with fresh rosemary twigs. let it stand at room temp for at least half an hour before serving. serve with crackers, celery sticks, or whatever strikes your fancy.
as always, if you try this recipe, or it inspires you to try something different, please let me know how it turned out. i'm always looking for fresh and clever ideas to improve my own cooking skills and recipes.
for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here