The Life of the Party
Six steps to everyone’s favorite holiday nibble
Written by Lia Grabowski | Photos by Jonathan Boncek
Holiday entertaining is a balance of effort to outcome. While you could spend the day shut in the kitchen crafting an intricate masterpiece, the results can disappear in a matter of moments when put in front of hungry houseguests. Instead, a recipe that looks impressive but is easy to create can be your ticket out of the kitchen to spend more time with visiting relatives and friends. Enter the cheese ball, a stress-free appetizer you can prep the night before. Ours uses roasted garlic—make things easy on yourself by picking some up from the grocery store’s salad or pickle bar. When combining ingredients with the cream cheese, resist the urge to break out the food processor—you want to retain some texture and avoid overprocessing the mixture. Once your cream cheese is softened, it should be easy to mix in the cheese and herbs by hand. Be cautious when adding extra salt. Since salted almonds will coat the outside, dip one into the mixture to test whether more seasoning is needed. While the cheese ball only needs to chill for two hours to firm up, an overnight rest will allow the flavors to meld more thoroughly before serving. Find a guest that’s eager to help and ask them to arrange the almonds in not-so-even concentric rings, staggering the nuts to resemble a pinecone. If you’re pressed for time, finely chop almonds and press around the outside of the cheese ball to coat. To serve either option, arrange on a platter with crackers or toasted baguette slices and mix yourself a festive drink.