Somewhere along the way, “cheese ball” became associated with the “uncool” — a term reserved for bad jokes, ugly gifts that beg to be regifted, or hideous patterns on a tablecloth or skirt. But the appetizer that is literally a ball of cheese deserves much more respect. Cheese balls are make-ahead appetizers that requires little prep and, in most cases, no special equipment or skill. An appetizer that makes us think so fondly on the holiday gatherings of our youth deserves its chance in the spotlight.
Try this spiked cheese log recipe for New Year’s Eve — or any festive get-together. BOOZY CHERRY LOG
1 cup chopped dried Bing cherries
1/2 cup light rum
1 cup sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted, for coating
Water crackers or graham crackers, for serving Stir together the cherries, rum and sugar and let sit for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
Using a stand mixer or a bowl and a spatula, mix together the cherry mixture, cream cheese and vanilla until combined. Form the mixture into a log, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Before serving, roll the log in the pecans to coat.
Serve with water crackers or graham crackers.Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from “Great Balls of Cheese,” by Michelle Buffardi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $15.95, 2013). Reprinted with permission from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hmhco.com Note: Serve as a dessert or an appetizer.