Christmas Ornament Cheese Balls are a fun, festive addition to your holiday party menu in three mouthwatering flavors — Cranberry, Blue Cheese, & Pecan; Garlic, Feta, & Dill; and White Cheddar, Rosemary, & Pomegranate!
It’s beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Christmas! Last night marked our first freeze of the season. The house is decorated and the Christmas cards have been mailed. We’ve been drinking egg nog like it’s going out of style. And this weekend, I’m looking forward to a mommy-daughter date to take my 4-year-old to the Nutcracker for the first time! So it only makes sense that today’s recipe should be extra festive and Christmas-y, right?
I love a classic cheese ball at a party. And y’all seem to agree…a few years back, I shared some Mini Cheese Ball Bites that remain one of my most popular holiday recipes to this day. This year, however, I decided to go full-sized! And if one cheese ball is good? Three are marvelous…
But let’s not stop there. These aren’t you’re ordinary cheese balls, folks. These are cheese balls masquerading as Christmas ornaments! Because why shouldn’t party food double as decor?
I was actually in the grocery store when the inspiration for these Christmas Ornament Cheese Balls struck. So I started making notes in my phone regarding potential flavor combos, trekking back and forth across the aisles to secure the ingredients as they evolved in my head. I also grabbed a multi-colored spool of Christmas ribbon while I was at it. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to make my cheese balls look like ornaments or attach everything, but I figured ribbon would somehow be a factor. More on that in a moment…
First, I had to devise the cheese ball recipes themselves. All of them started with a block of cream cheese, but then it was time to have some fun with flavor and texture!
The first one was easy, because it was patterned after those aforementioned Mini Cheese Ball Bites. For the Cranberry, Blue Cheese, & Pecan Cheese Ball, I whipped crumbled blue cheese and a generous amount of chopped dried cranberries into a softened block of cream cheese. The plentiful cranberries help counter the robust flavor of the blue cheese so that it’s not too strong or overwhelming in the final cheese ball. After the cheese ball chilled until firm, I pressed toasted pecans into its surface for nutty flavor and wonderful crunch.
Next I decided to channel a Mediterranean vibe with a Garlic, Feta, & Dill Cheese Ball, inspired by an amazing garlicky whipped cheese spread that I enjoyed recently. That spread was sprinkled with dill and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since, so like any good food blogger, I was determined to recreate it. 😉 I added feta to make it more substantial in cheese ball form, but even so, this was the softest cheese ball of the bunch. No complaints, though, as the flavor is fantastic.
For my final White Cheddar, Rosemary, & Pomegranate Cheese Ball, I wanted a more neutral filling in order to let the exterior really shine (both literally and figuratively)…a shimmery mantle of ruby red pomegranate jewels! Aren’t they purty? So I kept the cream cheese enhancements simple for this one with some sharp white cheddar, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, and a touch of fresh minced rosemary.
Now I will admit that it takes awhile to press the pomegranate seeds into the cheese ball, since you have to be careful not to burst them and you want them to fit neatly together. But much like the 80s addiction known as Tetris, there’s a strange satisfaction in finding just the right pomegranate seed to fit in just the right crevice. Or, if you have a 9-year-old interested in earning a nice, crisp George Washington, you can always task him with the job. 😉
Now these cheese balls would be perfectly lovely to serve as-is. Everyone would be thrilled to dig in and nobody would ever know the difference! But should you feel motivated to kick things up a notch, it’s simple to turn these traditional appetizers into fancy Christmas Ornament Cheese Balls!
You’re basically going to give the illusion of a ribbon-wrapped ornament with a hanger sticking out the top. And here’s how you work the magic:
Cut two pieces of ribbon that are long enough to lay over the top of the cheese ball and tuck under its bottom. Cross them like an X…
…and then tie one around the other so that they do indeed make an X.
Lay the X on top of the cheese ball so that the four ribbons hanging down evenly divide the cheese ball into fourths…
…and then tuck the pieces under the bottom so that the ribbon is tight against the cheese ball.
Cut another length of ribbon and tie it in a bow around an ornament hanger.
Then stick the bottom of the ornament hanger into the top center of the cheese ball, right where the ribbon X crosses. Push the bow down so that it’s sitting right on top of the cheese ball.
And TA-DAAAAAAA! Fun, festive, and oh-so-cute. Did I mention tasty, too? These Christmas Ornament Cheese Balls are truly a perfect appetizer for all of your holiday entertaining needs.
Furthermore, they’re delicious enough to serve at parties or get-togethers any time of year…minus the ribbon and wire hanger, of course. 😉 Enjoy, friends, and stay warm this weekend!
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