Cheeseballs are extremely easy to make. If you can mix stuff, you can make a cheeseball. 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 surrounded by ceramics, tapered candles, and artfully rumpled linen napkins. First thing gone? The cheeseball. Every time. At every party.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together maple syrup, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the walnuts and toss to coat. Pour the nuts onto the parchment lined sheet tray and roast for 8 minutes or until nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Once cool, roughly chop the nuts.
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese, vinegar, and horseradish until smooth. Season with pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then, add in all the cheese and herbs and mix until just combined. Place the mixture onto a big sheet of plastic wrap in a big mound. Fold the excess plastic wrap over the mound and form into a ball. Place in the fridge the firm up for at least an hour.
When you’re ready to serve, remove the cheese ball from the fridge for 20 minutes to soften a bit. Roll the cheese ball in the nuts to coat. Serve with crackers.
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, Food Network Kitchen and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.