April 17th is National Cheese Ball Day–which we used to celebrate back in school by reading Harold Robbins novels. How come nobody reads those anymore? Anyway, then we became moms, and we got confused if Cheese Ball Day was about the evil processed snack food or the wonderful nutty appetizer spread onto a buttery round cracker. Now we just buy the kids a bag of junk food and make something elaborately Cheese Ball in our kitchen–and we’re proud to say that our kid usually end up preferring our creation. [photo via kraftrecipes.com]
Anyway, here’s an epic Cheese Ball for today. And it turns out that the today really is about our kind of Cheese Balls, since it seems to honor Elisha Brown, Junior–who, the story goes, created the first cheese ball as a gift for President Thomas Jefferson in 1801. It weighed in at over 1,200 pounds. We’re being less ambitious…
- 2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
- 1 one ounce package of ranch dressing powder mix
- 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (you may substitute chopped walnuts or shaved almonds if you wish)
- 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons of white worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Using a double, boiler, melt the cheddar cheese to a smooth, creamy consistency. Whisk in the mustard, white pepper and white worcestershire. Remove the mixture from the heat.
- Using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, begin mixing the softened cream cheese. Add the ranch dressing powder. Gradually add the cheddar cheese mixture. Keep mixing at low speed or with easy strokes with the spoon until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not let the mixture take on too much air.
- Shape the entire mixture into one big ball or as many smaller ones you wish to make. Roll the ball in the chopped nuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least three hours.
- You can use other kinds of cheese besides cheddar. Smoked gouda is a nice substitute as is Monterey Jack.
- Add a few drops of liquid smoke for a nice smoky taste and aroma.
- Snip in some fresh tarragon, chive or other favorite herb or veggie to taste.