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When people refer to me as “cheese ball” (and they often do), I respond by saying: “Thank you so much!” After all, a cheese ball is an amazing dish with so many wonderful attributes, I can only assume someone is bestowing me with a very kind compliment, even if he or she is alluding to my resembling this decadent treat. Now, am I a Midwesterner? Yes. Could this have something to do with my affinity for cheese encased in more cheese and formed into a ball? Maybe. But I also think it goes deeper than that.
Hear me out. Cheese balls are extremely easy to make. If you can mix stuff, you can make a cheese ball. You can make them ahead of time, which I always love. Or you can throw them together last minute. They travel like a dream. And I AM TELLING YOU there is nothing more crowd-pleasing, more attention-getting, and more quickly disappearing at a party with than a cheeseball. Any kind of party: from my mom’s retired teacher Christmas party in Ohio (go, Bucks!) to the hipster dinner party in Brooklyn—ceramics, tapered candles, artfully rumpled linen napkins and all. First thing gone? The cheese ball. Every time. At every party.
Not convinced? All you need to do is take one taste of this cheeseball and you will be. I start with cream cheese—and I think we can all agree that any recipe with a cream cheese base is going to be so good you don’t even feel guilty for finishing it solo. Then, I mix in cheddar cheese, Gruyere, and Parmesan. Next, I add parsley, chives, and dill. Finally, my once-secret ingredient that I now feel comfortable sharing with the world, for the sole purpose of getting everyone on-message about cheeseballs: prepared horseradish. The crucial finishing step that seals, beautifies, and often adds crunch, is a nice roll in maple-roasted chopped walnuts.
Serve with Ritz crackers, and once everyone stops gagging over your extremely on-point 80s throwback, which they claim to only like because it’s ironic (but actually like because it’s dope AF), start the timer and see how long it takes to disappear. Then, pat yourself on the back for pulling such a baller move.
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- 12 ounces (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
- 2 teaspoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 1 cup finely shredded sharp yellow cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded gruyere
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- Crackers, for serving
How do you cheese ball? If you haven't yet, will you give it a shot? Let us know in the comments!