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Cheese Ball - Chocolate Martini
Cheese balls come in sweet and savory. This Chocolate Martini Cheese Ball is like chocolate cheesecake on a cookie. All photography by B.A. Van Sise.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE™.

 

 

February 2007

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Salsas & Dips

Robert Rothschild Farm Cheese Balls & Dips

Cheese Balls Are New Again With Robert Rothschild’s Easy Offerings

 

CAPSULE REPORT: There are are different types of cheese balls: some of us grew up with round balls of cheddar spreads coated in nuts, others made them with cream cheese. Robert Rothschild Farm offers two types of the latter: a pre-mixed, shelf-stable “cheese ball in a jar” that can be shaped into a ball or scooped and spread; and a mix to form into a ball with your own cream cheese. The shelf-stable product is a good item to keep in the pantry for quick hors d’oeuvre. Either makes a nice hostess gift.

“If you want to eat cream cheese,” our mother admonished, “why not get a bagel, or make a good cheesecake? Mom is a New Yorker, and doesn’t get the cheese ball. In fact, a famous food authority in a recent interview wished the cheese ball would go the way of the dodo bird. She doesn’t get it either.

Cheese balls are retro, affordable party fare...so when you can’t afford to set out trays of ikura sushi or baby lamb chops, let your guests have fun with something other than your regular spinach dip.

Robert Rothschild Farm makes it easy with a set of cheese ball options. There are pre-made “Cheese Ball and Gourmet Dip” choices in attractive, six-sided jars. If you want to buy cream cheese and make your own from scratch using packets of seasoning, those choices exist too. Here’s the difference:

Buy the boxed mix and you get to choose your cream cheese (we always buy organic—they taste so much better). You avoid a lot of the stabilizers required to make the product shelf-stable (i.e., no refrigeration is required until the jar is opened). You have to do a lot more mixing and molding, but you get the pleasure of an almost “from scratch” creation.

Cheese Ball - Dirty Martini
Dirty Martini Cheese Ball, with green olive and
pimento.

If you buy the product in the jar, it’s pre-mixed and the flavors are better-blended by professional machinery than they could be by hand, even if you let the flavors sit overnight. You can mold it into a ball—but given the super-smooth consistency and pretty color, you might be tempted to use it as a cracker or cookie spread from the jar, and prepare a tray of crackers or hors d’oeuvre. You can do that with the boxed mixes of course—but after all that labor, you darn well want to make that round cheese ball!

The jars contain enough product to make one cheese ball; the boxed mixes, which are the same price, contain enough dry mix to assemble two cheese balls with toppings—plus the cost of your own cream cheese, which still makes the boxes a much better value. The balls made from mix seem plainer in flavor but come with added toppings to compensate. To make a cheese ball, simply combine the dry mix with 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, mix until smooth and refrigerate until firm, one to two hours. Then, hand-shape into a ball (or a triangle, if your imagination and dexterity allow) and drizzle with the included topping. It will taste better if you let the flavors blend for several hours or overnight.

  • The boxed mixes come in Chipped Beef, Cinnamon Pear and Sweet Coconut & Peppers
  • The jars are available in Chocolate Martini, Dirty Martini, Hot Pepper Peach and Pineapple Margarita

There’s no alcohol flavor in any of the cheese balls, and most have no alcohol ingredient. Chocolate Martini included vodka as the last ingredient on a long list—we think that a tiny amount had been added just to justify calling the product “Martini.” While naming products is fun, in our opinion the decision to apply “cocktail” names to some of the flavors in the line, but not all, is confusing to consumers. The products work just as well at tea parties as cocktail parties, and the names may scare off or confuse some consumers. Perhaps modified labeling, e.g. “No Alcohol or Alcoholic Flavor,” would have helped. Then, we could have served it to youngsters, who would enjoy spreading most of the flavors on cookies and crackers.

Flavors

Dirty Martini tastes like a combination of olive cream cheese and pimento cream cheese. The “martini” reference is the olives. Chocolate Martini is chocolate cheese cake; you need the power of imagination to taste any vodka. Pineapple Margarita is sweet and tangy: pineapple, mango, roasted red pepper and habañero chile. The boxed mixes, because they are hand-blended instead of factory-mixed, taste more cream-cheesy: Cinnamon Pear is sweet, especially with the cinnamon caramel dessert sauce topping; Sweet Coconut & Peppers is given some sweet tang with a pepper jelly topping, and Chipped Beef is topped with an onion horseradish sauce.

While we like the better integration of flavors in the pre-mixed versions, sensitive palates will detect the stabilizers required to make them a shelf-stable product (no refrigeration is required until the jar is opened). We also like the idea of keeping a jar or two in the pantry for instant festivities. And unless you’re awfully good with a spatula, homemade cheese balls never look quite as appealing as factory-made, perfectly shaped ones (although they may taste a lot better).

Pineapple Cheese Ball
Pineapple Cheese Ball: sweet and spicy.

Serving Suggestions

The traditional serving of a cheese ball is with crackers or party bread slices. The sweet flavors go well with cookies—the less sweet, tea biscuit kind, and graham crackers. But these spreads can be used as a base for hors d’oeuvre or in other combinations. Although these products are called Cheese Ball and “Gourmet Dip,” they’re awfully thick to dip—spread would be a better word. Try:

  • Hot Pepper Peach, Pineapple Margarita or Sweet Coconut & Peppers on tea sandwiches, alone or with vegetables, chicken, ham or turkey
  • Chocolate Martini and Cinnamon Pear on cookies, biscuits or fruit (they also are delicious with croissants or as bread spread instead of jam)

These sweet flavors do take the place of a sweet cheese dessert...like cheesecake with a cookie crust (or if you prefer, Sweet Coconut & Peppers or Pineapple Margarita for a sweet-and-tangy cheesecake). Mother may prefer to bake a cheesecake, but you don’t need to.

ROBERT ROTHSCHILD FARM CHEESE BALL & DIP
JARS in Chocolate Martini, Dirty Martini, Hot Pepper Peach and Pineapple Margarita
MIXES in Chipped Beef*, Cinnamon Pear and Sweet Coconut & Peppers

Certified kosher by Quality Kosher Supervision (*except for Chipped Beef)

  • Ready-Made
    12-Ounce Jar
    $9.99
  • Mixes
    9.1-Ounce Box
    $9.99

Purchase online at RobertRothschild.com.

Also available at specialty food stores.

Cheese Ball Mixes

Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.

© Copyright 2005-2014 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved.  Images are the copyright of their respective owners.

 



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