For many years I worked in a gourmet food gift shop. One of the popular foods were cheese based appetizers for entertaining. Homemade cheeseballs are a fairly simple appetizer, with almost no cooking involved. A great idea for your next holiday gathering. And not only do they make a great tasting appetizer, but they are a fun and delicious homemade gift to give to friends or family. They can be prepared to be sweet or savory. Add a few specialty crackers and chips on a festive plate to pair with your cheeseballs and appetizer is done.
Servings: For a Party
For the Base:
3 bricks cream cheese, 8 ounces each
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon pepper
8 oz. brick of extra sharp cheese, white or yellow
8 oz. brick of pepper jack cheese
8 oz brick muenster cheese
For Bacon Jalapeno Popper:
10 to 12 strips of maple flavored bacon, cooked and chopped small
2 large jalapenos, seeds removed and finely diced
3 green onions, sliced thin
For Dirty Martini:
12 to 16 queen (big) olives stuffed with jalapeno
1 large roasted red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 to 2 tablespoon vodka, optional
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
For Toasted Coconut Habanero with Pineapple and Pecans:
3/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup pecans, crushed
1/4 cup dried pineapple, minced
2 tablespoons pineapple or apricot preserves
1 -2 tablespoons habanero hot sauce
1. For The Base: Using a kitchen-aide, in your mixer bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, sour cream, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and pepper. Mix until well combined and smooth. Gradually mix in all of the shredded cheese. It will get very thick. You can mix this all by hand as well. Divide the cheese mixture equally into separate bowls. Set aside.
2. Prep and finely chop all of your ingredients for each cheeseball. For the jalapeno popper cheeseball: After you cook the bacon until crisp, drain onto a plate lined with paper towels. Finely chop the bacon, set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease to a small pan. Heat to medium and saute the jalapenos for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Toasted Coconut Habanero with Pineapple and Pecan: To the cheese mixture, add 1/3 of the coconut 1/3 of the pecans, 2 tablespoons pineapple preserves, diced pineapple and habanero hot sauce. Mix well to combine. Place cheeseball onto a piece of plastic wrap and cover to form the cheeseball. Chill for 2 hours. For each cheeseball, you will do this same step: Mix and place the extra toppings on some parchment or wax paper spread out. Remove the plastic from chilled cheeseball and roll into the toppings to coat evenly. Garnish with chopped parsley and chill until ready to serve.
Dirty Martini Cheeseball: After you finely chop the olives, red pepper and jalapenos, gently press out any excess moisture using a paper towel. To the cheese mixture, add 1/3 of olives to mix, 1/2 of the pickled jalapeno, all of the green onions and vodka if using. Mix well to combine. Reserve extra ingredients.
Bacon Jalapeno Popper: Finely chop the cooked bacon. To the cheese mix, add 1/3 bacon, 1/3 sauteed jalapeno and half of the green onion. Mix well to combine. Reserve extra ingredients.
Tips~ When ready to serve, garnish with chopped parsley and chill until ready to serve. Instead of 3 large cheeseballs, you could make 6 smaller ones. They make great gifts. Each large cheeseball serves 8-10 people.