Cheese ball trio (final results and recipes)

My cheese balls were a success. Now that they’ve been served, I have proper final versions of their recipes to share, and accompanying notes. Each cheese ball had different fans, so the trio was good for appealing to different tastes. One happy accident was that I made the cheddar apple ball Friday night, and the extra lead time turned out to be absolutely necessary.

Drop a comment if you end up trying these recipes, as-is or with any variations. I’m curious how your experience and reactions will differ. Enjoy!

Savory Cheddar Cheese Ball

  • 8 oz. sharp yellow cheddar, grated or shredded
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (I prefer French’s)
  • 4 tsp. minced or chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ tsp. soy lecithin (optional)
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • Italian-seasoned bread crumbs

Make sure butter is up to room temperature or softened before mixing. Mix all ingredients except bread crumbs in food processor until relatively smooth. More water may be desired (final texture when served is slightly crumbly); if more is added, increase chill time. Spoon onto plastic wrap in loose ball shape, gather corners, twist, then fasten closed. Chill for several hours. After chilling, ball should be firm or hard; using wax paper, massage it into a better ball shape, then roll in bread crumbs until well-coated. Wrap in fresh plastic and return to refrigerator. Ball may be removed from refrigerator a little while before serving for softer texture, or served chilled.

Cheddar Apple Cheese Ball

  • 4 oz. extra sharp New York white cheddar, grated
  • 3/8 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider
  • ¼ tsp. soy lecithin
  • Update: ¼ tsp. xanthan gum
  • Dried apple (for coating); chewy, not fully dry
  • Corn starch

Slice apple and peel slices to be used; remove material near the core. Chop apple in food processor, then add cheese, cider, and lecithin and mix until smooth (a few minutes). Mixture will be very soft and does not hold its shape well. Spoon onto plastic wrap, gather corners, twist, and fasten closed. Chill for at least 36 hours. When adequately chilled, ball should be much firmer but still quite pliable. (Update: If you use xanthan gum, only a few hours of chilling are required. It will be much firmer but still easy to shape. But still let the ball chill for at least 12 hours before serving, for the apple sweetness to develop.)

Chop or slice dried apple into very small pieces, and toss with a little corn starch. Coating will take at least ½ cup of dried apple if not more, so make more than you think you will need, and then make more than that. Spread coating on wax paper; excess corn starch on paper is okay, probably even desirable. Remove ball from wrap, form into ball as best you can, and roll in dried apple pieces until well coated. Transfer to clean plastic wrap and form into a rough apple shape. Press dimple into top with thumb. Return to refrigerator until ready to serve. Before serving, stick toothpick in top.

Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball

  • 8 oz. sharp yellow cheddar, grated or shredded
  • 12 slices (1 lb.) thick-cut bacon, cooked
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • ¼ tsp. soy lecithin (optional)
  • Tapioca maltodextrin (optional)

Chop bacon in food processor until fine; it will be rather moist and clumpy from grease. This yields about 2/3 cup. Reserve ½ of bacon for coating. (Optional: In a separate food processor or at a later time, mix coating with several tbsp. of tapioca maltodextrin to reduce clumping. I did not do this step, but would recommend it.) Mix bacon, cheese, water, and lecithin in food processor until smooth (a few minutes). Add additional water if desired for even softer texture and better spreading, but chill longer if you do. Spoon onto plastic wrap, gather corners, twist, and fasten. Chill for several hours. When chilled, place ball on wax paper and use it to form a better ball shape. Spread bacon coating and roll ball in bacon. Transfer to fresh plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Now for some notes: The bacon cheese ball was slightly softer-spreading than the savory ball, not as crumbly, probably due to the higher amount of fat. For the savory ball, I recommend adding more water than the 3 tbsp. I used; mine turned out fine, but more liquid is probably better. The bacon ball coating will turn out better with tapioca maltodextrin added to reduce clumping, but if you spread the bacon bits out as thin as you can and then make sure to spread out any clumps on the ball, this should be good enough. Soy lecithin is optional in the sharp cheddar recipes, but may be necessary for the apple cheddar ball which uses extra sharp and may have inadequate emulsifiers on its own.

The apple ball has the best spreadability because it is so soft. It no doubt has a higher moisture content because it contains so much fresh apple, and this is why it takes a day and a half to cool. You can experiment with higher amounts of soy lecithin, though I think the amount I used is probably adequate; there is a definite texture difference with it vs. without, which is also something I noticed in the other recipes as I made them.

I should note that the apple ball is smaller than the others. I actually made 1½ of that recipe, and spooned out a third to make a smaller ball. I spooned out a third of each of the other recipes as well, but used the original quantity of ingredients in each of them. Bottom line: The full-sized apple ball is about 2/3 the size of the other two, but roughly apple-sized. By adjusting the quantity on the apple ball but not the others, I got three large balls of roughly the same size, and three small balls of roughly the same size.

Flavor-wise, you can expect the apple cheddar ball to be more sweet than sharp after it has chilled; the sharpness of the cheese is more noticeable when fresh. The savory ball is tangy with a nice garlic note, not too overpowering but lingering in a pleasant way. (The little bit of butter is there to keep the tanginess somewhat in check, and I think it was successful in that regard.) The bacon cheese ball is truly the best of both worlds, very bacony and cheesy.

I recommend using bacon that’s not very smoky and is adequately salty; my personal favorite is the Wellsley Farms thick-cut bacon sold by BJ’s Wholesale club. (Prior to this I used to use Oscar Mayer thick-cut, but the BJ’s brand is better.) If you prefer a smokier bacon and don’t mind that flavor in the cheese ball, though, by all means use what you like. The one thing you can’t do is use thin-cut bacon; you could perhaps just use more of it, but I think thick-cut is going to provide a superior quality in terms of the coating and the chunks of bacon in the ball itself. For reference, a pound and a half of my bacon was 17 slices, so by using 12 slices I used just a smidge over a pound.

Since the Superbowl is over, you’ll have to find a new major event to make these for. If your family is big on watching the Olympics, there’s a perfect excuse, or there’s March Madness for basketball fans.

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About Lummox JR

Aspiring to be a beloved supervillain
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