A quick update: I attempted to make my cheddar apple cheese ball again, following my exact recipe from last time but with the addition of ¼ tsp. xanthan gum. Instead of taking 36 hours to firm up enough to work with, it took only six and firmed up enough to be handled easily. It still needed a little more time (another 12 hours) for the flavor to develop a bit more, but the cheese was plenty spreadable, just as before. I bought dried apple but didn’t bother to dress this one; it was just an experiment.
Now I’m starting to wonder if, for presentation, rolling it in light green food-grade wax after shaping would be a cool way to go.