If you can stop rolling your eyes long enough to try this colorful version of a holiday buffet table staple, you will discover that it is pretty and delicious. Not surprisingly, the key is to use good cheeses. In this case, that includes mascarpone and a richly flavored Stilton blue.
Serve with plain water crackers.
Make Ahead: The cheese mixture needs 2 hours' refrigeration before it can be shaped into a ball. The cheese ball can be made and refrigerated 1 day in advance.
- 1 1/4 cups mixed dried fruit, such as dried cherries, cranberries, sultanas and blueberries, plus more for garnish
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 4 ounces mascarpone
- 4 ounces crumbled stilton cheese (rind removed)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 to 2 teaspoons cognac
- A few slivered or sliced blanched almonds, a couple of rosemary sprigs or other winter greens, for garnish
Place the dried fruit in the bowl of a food processor; pulse just until chopped coarsely. Scrape the chopped fruit into a mixing bowl.
Combine the cream cheese, mascarpone, Stilton and 1 tablespoon of the honey in the bowl of the food processor; process until creamy and well blended. Taste and add the remaining tablespoon of honey as needed; process to incorporate. The mixture should be on the sweet side, but not too much so.
Add the cognac to the mixture (to taste), along with the chopped dried fruit; process just until combined. Return the mixture to the mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until fairly firm.
Use a spatula to shape the mixture (while it's in the bowl) to about the size of a softball, rotating the bowl as you shape. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.
When ready to serve, use a large spatula to transfer to the center of a serving platter. Arrange a few berries or a large dried cherry on top of the cheese ball, then arrange the almonds around the cherry. Garnish the platter with the sprigs of rosemary or other winter greens.
From cookbook author Domenica Marchetti.
Tested by Domenica Marchetti.
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