Chef Vivian Howard calls this her party magnet – the crowd pleaser that draws people in.  Use precisely the 3 kinds of cheeses called for in this recipe and you cannot go wrong.  This is the “tinseled up” version which calls for dried cranberries and mint leave instead of the chopped dates and parsley in the original recipe. Ingredients: The cheesy part: ¼ cup mild blue cheese, and not the cheap stuff.  This can be the firmest cheese of the bunch. ¼ cup goat cheese – I use one of the softer kinds ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cream cheese.  I use soft cream cheese from the local deli, not the supermarket stuff. ⅓ cup (2/3 stick) butter.  I use spreadable European butter for its soft texture and extra fat content. …all at room temperature. For flavoring: ½ teaspoon hot sauce ¼ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons green onions chopped fine, both white and green parts – do not skip this 2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped fine ⅔ cup chopped dried cranberries – the most important part of flavoring all this.  Use chopped dates if making the non-Christmas tinseled up version. ½ cup toasted chopped pecans or fried up then chopped slices of deli ham for garnishing First of all, let all 3 cheesy ingredients plus the butter come to room temperature before mixing. Use a mixer to combine all of the ingredients well.  The mixture will appear almost soupy but that is okay since it will ball up nicely after being chilled. Chill the mixture for 30 minutes then roll it into that ball.  Roll the ball in the chopped pecans or deli ham for a finishing touch. Let sit for 20 min to let flavors come through before serving. Serve with plain-Jane crackers, nothing fancy.  Stand back and watch the magnet work.  My crowds say this is the best cheesy appetizer ever. Vivian says this will freeze well and she is right - mine freeze very well so that I make two and freeze one. Adapted from Vivian Howard’s cookbook published in 2016.
Cheese Ball
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