Date & Blue Cheese Ball
Cheese balls were all the rage in the 1970s, an easy, tasty, fab party food for any occasion. What’s old is now retro-chic—this lightened-up cheese ball seduces with the sweetness of dates, the savory bite of blue cheese, a hint of shallot, and a teasing whiff of lemon zest.
Dip Do-Ahead: The cheese ball can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate.
Toasting Nuts and Seeds:
Toasting pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds brings out their fullest, richest flavor. Place the nuts or seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet/tray and bake in a preheated 350°F/180°C/gas 4, oven until lightly browned. 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the nut or seed. Alternatively, nuts and seeds can be browned in a microwave. Place in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high power for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring once or twice while they are toasting. Watch carefully that they don’t burn.
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Cocktail Party, game day
Recipe Coursehors d'oeuvre, snack
Dietary Considerationhors d'oeuvre, snack
Taste and Texturecreamy, herby, nutty, sweet, tangy
Type of Dishdip/spread
- 8 oz (225g) of low-fat cream cheese (bar style), at room temperature
- 1 cup (115g) crumbled blue cheese, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp reduced-fat buttermilk
- 3 tbsp minced medjool dates (5 or 6 pitted dates)
- 1 tbsp minced shallots
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- ¼ tsp kosher or sea salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
- 2 tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2½ tbsp finely chopped toasted walnuts (see Notes)
- Crostini, baked pita chips, baked bagel chips, marbled rye toasts, celery and carrot sticks
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, blue cheese, and buttermilk on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the dates, shallots, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and beat until well combined.
Transfer the cheese mixture to a large sheet of plastic wrap/cling film and form it into a ball. Wrap the ball in the wrap/film and refrigerate until well chilied, at least 2 hours or overnight.
In a shallow bowl or plate, mix together the parsley and walnuts. Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator. With the wrap/film still on, shape into a well-formed ball. Unwrap the cheese mixture and roll it gently in the nut mixture until all sides are well covered. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2010 Diane Morgan