Party season is upon us, and that means that party food is upon us as well. Is there anything better than a fabulous spread of munchies? I don’t think so.
I’ve made this cheese ball for two parties in the past few weeks, and if you’re attending a party that I’m attending in the coming weeks, you’ll likely bump into this cheese ball as well! It’s that good, and I’m mildly obsessed. It’s creamy, and spicy, and cheesy, and crunchy, and garlicky, and just so many good things wrapped up in a perfectly spreadable little party package.
My obsession with Everything bagels goes way back. It’s my bagel of choice, and given the choice between a sweet breakfast Danish and a savory, chewy Everything bagel, I’m going to go bagel every single time. So, when I ran across this recipe, I bookmarked it and kept it in my files. It sat there for quite a while, untouched, and then I ran across it again online and thought, “That looks so good. I really need to give that a try.” Fast forward to the next day, and I was invited to a going away party for a coworker. I asked her what she’d like me to bring to the party, and she simply replied, “A cheese ball.”
It was like the stars had aligned. It was time to break out the recipe.
I started by frying up a few thin slices of pancetta on the stove top until they were nice and crisp, and then I moved them to some paper towel to drain and cool before I crumbled them up.
While the pancetta was cooling, I grated a block of extra sharp cheddar cheese and chopped up a few green onions.
In my food processor, I blended some softened cream cheese and butter with my shredded cheddar until it was nice and creamy. Then, I added in the green onions, the crumbled pancetta, a hefty dose of pepper (it sounds like a lot, but it’s not overpowering), a dash of salt and some Worcestershire sauce.
That already looks good enough to dive into, right?
I blended that mixture until it was nice and smooth, and well combined, and then scooped it all out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. I gathered the cheese into a ball shape, wrapped it tightly, and popped it into the fridge for a few hours to set up.
For Thanksgiving, I made it to this point a day ahead of time. Give it at least a few hours in the refrigerator to firm up and bring all of those flavors together. There’s a lot going on in that little cheese ball.
Before serving it, and up to a couple of hours ahead of time, it’s time to fry up some garlic slices and shallots to help create that Everything spice flavor. I sliced up my garlic into thin chips and quickly fried it up on the stove top until it was toasty and crisp.
I removed the garlic chips from the hot oil to a plate covered in paper towels and then added some thinly sliced shallots to the hot oil and let them fry up until they were browned and crisp as well.
Once the garlic and shallots are cooled, you can coat the cheese ball. It helps if the cheese ball is softened just a bit, so let it sit out for about ten minutes before rolling in the spice.
I combined the garlic and shallots, and coated the cheese ball in the crispy bits. Then, I sprinkled on hefty doses of poppy seeds and toasted sesame seeds to finish it off.
I placed it on a platter, surrounded it with bagel chips (The obvious choice, right?), and we dug in.
Who doesn’t love a cheese ball at the holidays? And this one is certainly worth loving. A lot.
EVERYTHING SPICE COATED CHEDDAR CHEESE BALL
- 6 thin slices of pancetta
- 1⅓ cups finely grated extra sharp cheddar
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- Kosher salt
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon poppy seed
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
- In a skillet over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crisp. Remove to a plate covered in paper towels to drain and cool.
- In a food processor, combine the softened cream cheese, butter, and shredded cheddar. Process until smooth and creamy.
- Add the green onion, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, sprinkle of salt and then crumble the crisped pancetta in as well. Process until smooth.
- Scoop the cheese mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and gather into a ball. Wrap tightly and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to overnight.
- When you’re ready to coat the cheese ball, take it out of the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for about ten minutes before coating.
- To coat:
- Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic slices, and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes until toasty and crisped. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels.
- Add the sliced shallots to the hot oil and fry, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow to drain and cool on paper towels.
- When you’re ready to coat the cheese ball, combine the cooled garlic chips and shallots in a bowl. Roll the cheese ball in the garlic and shallots, pressing them in to coat. Sprinkle the cheese ball all over with poppy seats and toasted sesame seeds.
- Serve, with bagel chips or crackers.