By Cathy Callahan
When I was growing up we spent Christmas at Auntie’s house. We would have the big traditional holiday meal, turkey and all of the fixings, in the early afternoon. Then we would clean up the dishes and reset the table to prepare for the evening celebration when the rest of the extended family would come over. As if anyone needed more food all sorts of snacks and desserts would be set out. Of course the evening guests would bring over even more food. The table would be filled with plenty of cookies, fudge, nuts, chips and crackers. Just so you wouldn’t have to eat your crackers alone, there would usually be at least three different kinds of cheese balls — one was always a port wine version, one rolled in crushed walnuts (or almonds) and a bleu cheese or herb variation.
Since for most of the year growing up it was Cheez Whiz or Kraft Singles around my house, the cheese balls were a big treat for me – especially since a cheese and cracker combo went perfectly with my Shirley Temple “cocktail”. Come to think about it they were my favorite thing to eat at those Christmas celebrations. To this day if there is a cheese ball at a party it is likely to be what I have to sample first.
Up until the cheese ball you see pictured above, I had never made a cheese ball and really had no idea of how to go about it. A cheese ball is not really something I want to keep around the house as it would be far to tempting! But I knew that I had to try my hand at one when I ran across a photo of a “Pickle Snowman Cheese Ball” in Today’s Woman Holiday Ideas from 1963. The recipe was courtesy of The National Pickle Packers Association. Just like with the Halloween Popcorn Balls, I had never encountered a decorated cheese ball. Plus, a snowman makes perfect sense! I chose to remain true to the Pickle Packers vision but you could also try black olives, cherry tomatoes, peppers, etc.
I looked at many cheese ball recipes and came up with this combination. Feel free to add whatever else you like such as 1/2 cup of chopped onions, six crumbled hard boiled eggs, 1/2 cup of bacon bits, a few tablespoons of herbs, etc. What makes this recipe different is that you coat the cheese balls with some plain cream cheese – that’s what makes it look like a snowman!
2 cups grated Swiss or other white cheese
4 – 8 oz packs Cream Cheese 24 oz for the balls and 8 oz for the “icing”
1 t Salt
1/2 t Pepper
1 cup Relish drained
Pickles for decoration
Note: This one made with the relish has a very strong pickle flavor so if you or your guests might not be so into pickles, I would suggest using less relish.
Step 1: Let 3 of the 8 oz. packs of cream cheese get soft. Combine cheeses in a mixing bowl and blend thoroughly. Mix in relish, salt and pepper.
Step 2: Shape 1/4 of the mixture into a ball (this is for the head) and the rest into another ball (for the the body).
Step 3: Wrap balls in waxed paper. Chill 3-4 hours or overnight.
Step 4: Assemble the Snowman on your serving plate. Soften the remaining 8 oz pack of cream cheese. Beat until soft. Spread both balls with the cream cheese (much like you would ice a cake).
Garnish to decorate and serve with your favorite cracker.
Makes one snowman cheese ball.
About the Author:
Cathy Callahan is a crafter and window dresser who draws inspiration from vintage crafts. She blogs about 1960s and 1970s crafts at cathyofcalifornia.typepad.com.