Ah yes, the bland old cheese ball. You love to dig into one with some nice crackers, but you don't want to admit that you actually ever made one. You never show up at a pot luck with a cheese ball. You never take a cheese ball to a wine and cheese.
Well, Michelle Buffardi is going to change all that. Crack open Great Balls of Cheese and you will find and illustrious collection of hand crafted cheese balls. Yes, there are some fine recipes, but the truly wonderful aspect of the book is the cheese ball design. Seeing is believing. There is the owl on the cover.
The is a lovely kitty cat, and many more uber-creative balls. There is even a requisite football. Since the Super Bowl is upon us, make this game day extravaganza.
1 1⁄2 pounds sliced bacon
1 medium jalapeño, cored, seeded, and finely chopped (if you want extra heat in your cheese ball, retain some of the seeds)
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, plus 1 tablespoon, for decorating
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
Crackers, for serving
Cook the bacon: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lay the bacon slices in a single layer on 2 baking sheets.Bake until crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and let cool. Reserve 2 tablespoonsof the bacon grease from the pans, and discard the rest. Once the bacon has cooled, coarsely chop andset aside.
Cook the jalapeño in the reserved bacon grease in a small skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5minutes. Using a stand mixer or a bowl and a spatula, mix together 1 cup of the chopped bacon, thesautéed jalapeño, cream cheese, 1 cup of the cheddar, and the scallions until combined. Form themixture into a ball and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Before serving, form the ball into an oblong football shape and roll in the remaining chopped bacon tocoat. Decorate the top of the football cheese ball with the remaining 1 tablespoon cheddar to resemblelaces.
Serve with crackers.
So,the next time you need to take something to that boring old pot luck, whip up a zippy cheese ball. You will be the belle of the ball.