The Gourmet Touch: Have a ball — or two — at your holiday party
Dec 03, 2013 | 1785 views |  0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
What would we do without cream cheese at party time? Just think about how many times we reach for that package of cream cheese when we are making appetizers.

For years one of the most popular cream cheese creations has been the cheese ball. With a cheeseball you can use your own creativity, as well as whatever you might find in the kitchen pantry or refrigerator, to make an appreciated appetizer.

I was surprised when I learned that a local church group makes cheese balls as a fundraiser. This is a great idea because almost everyone who plans to host a party can use a couple of different types of cheese balls. Or if you are sitting around watching the game, a tasty cheese ball and some assorted crackers makes a great snack.

Often we fail to realize that a cheese ball doesn't have to be savory. There are some great sweet versions that can make an impact on the palate.

I had never really thought about a sweet cheese ball until my granddaughter, Meagan, asked me if maybe we could duplicate one she’d tasted at a party. After she worked to remember what she thought was in it, we went to work. Of course, Meagan was the taste-tester for this one, and the smile on her face when she tasted it assured me we had succeeded.

The following Holiday Dessert Cheese Ball is our version.

As I was looking through some cookbooks for new cheese ball ideas, I found another interesting sweet one. In the "Fix-it and Enjoy-it Cookbook" by Phyllis Pellman Good, I found a Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball that sounds wonderful. After all, who doesn't like chocolate chips?

We might have to make a couple of these at our house because they will probably disappear quickly.

CHOCOLATE CHIP CHEESE BALL
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Graham crackers or graham cracker sticks

In mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar and confectioners' sugar, and beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Place cream cheese mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a ball and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, roll cheese ball in pecans. Serve with graham crackers.

HOLIDAY DESSERT CHEESE BALL
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup chopped candied pineapple
1/4 cup chopped candied cherries (I use both red and green candied cherries)
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup shredded coconut (not fresh or frozen)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon coconut flavoring
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream together the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Add pineapple, cherries, dates, coconut and flavorings. Mix until blended. Form into a ball and roll in pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve with butter-type crackers or vanilla wafers.
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