Cheese Balls and Cheesecakes

Hosting a party and want something easy to make ahead? Cheese balls and cheesecakes are the answer. These party favorites are both deceptively simple to prepare and sure to leave your guests asking for the recipe. After all, entertaining doesn’t have to mean a whole lot of effort and stress.
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Cheese: Blue, Cream Cheese
Servings: 14-16

Cheese: Blue, Mascarpone, Parmesan, Ricotta
Category: Appetizer
Servings: 1 cheesecake

Cheese: Blue, Cream Cheese
Category: Appetizer
Servings: 30 cheese balls

Cheese: Asiago, Cream Cheese, Fontina, Parmesan
Category: Appetizer
Servings: 1 cheese ball*

Cheese: Blue, Cheddar, Swiss
Category: Spread
Servings: 1 cheese ball

Cheese: Cheddar, Cream Cheese, Pepper Jack
Category: Appetizer
Servings: 1 cheese ball*

Party Artichoke-Blue Cheesecake with Blue Cheese

Servings: 14-16


3 tablespoons seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 8-ounce packages Wisconsin cream cheese, softened
2 cups (12 ounces) Wisconsin blue cheese, crumbled
1 1/3 cups dairy sour cream, divided
3 eggs
3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon EACH: fresh basil, minced, fresh oregano, minced OR 2 teaspoons EACH: dried basil and oregano
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup chopped artichoke hearts, drained well
Quartered artichoke hearts for garnish, if desired

Cooking Directions:

Heat oven to 375°F. Butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Refrigerate.

Beat cream cheese in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in blue cheese and 2/3 cup sour cream. Beat in eggs. Sauté shallot in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir shallot into cheese mixture along with herbs and pepper. Fold in artichoke pieces. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Cool 10 minutes.

Spread remaining sour cream over top. Garnish with artichoke quarters. Bake 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature on wire rack. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. To serve, place on serving plate. Carefully run knife around outer edges; remove sides of pan. Spread on mild-flavored crackers, such as water crackers.

Savory Basil Cheesecake

Servings: 1 cheesecake


1 cup fine Italian bread crumbs
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup packed basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup light or cholesterol-free mayonnaise
1 carton (15 ounces) Wisconsin ricotta cheese (can substitute Wisconsin mascarpone cheese)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Wisconsin blue cheese
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) Wisconsin parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted almonds, optional
Slivered almonds, optional
Fresh chives, optional

Cooking Directions:

Combine crumbs and butter; press into bottom of lightly-greased 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Chill.

Combine basil, garlic, and mayonnaise in a blender, blend until smooth and set aside. In mixing bowl, beat together the ricotta, blue cheese and parmesan until blended. Beat in basil mixture. Spread mixture over crust, pressing and smoothing top. Chill at least 8 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, remove sides of pan and place cake on platter. Press chopped, toasted almonds onto sides of cheesecake, if desired. To garnish top of cheesecake, make a "flower" with slivered almonds and chive stems, if desired. Serve with assorted crackers, vegetable slices and toast.

Miniature Blue Cheese Balls with Winter Fruit

Servings: 30 cheese balls


30 dried apricots
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
4 ounces Wisconsin cream cheese, cut in chunks and softened to room temperature
4 ounces (3/4 cup) Wisconsin blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon French brandy*
1/2 tablespoon grated yellow onion

Cooking Directions:

Place the apricots in sauce pan. Add water barely to cover. Stir in vanilla. Bring apricots to boil, uncovered, and simmer until tender, 1-4 minutes, depending on dryness of the apricots. Test with a fork. The apricots should be tender but not limp. Drain and dry well. Set aside.

Heat oven to 375º. Spread pecans on baking sheet. Toast pecans for 4-5 minutes, until aromatic. Stir after 2 minutes and watch so nuts do not scorch. Remove and pour pecans on waxed paper to cool. Whirl pecans in blender or food processor until very fine. Set aside.

Place cream cheese, blue cheese and brandy in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are well blended. Add onion and pulse briefly to incorporate. (You may also blend the mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer.) Remove mixture to bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Remove cheese mixture from refrigerator. Form miniature balls and dip tops in pecans. Place on an apricot, nut side up. Repeat until all mixture is used. The mixture is soft – if too soft, spoon onto apricots, rounding the top and sprinkle with apricots.

*If a non-alcoholic mixture is preferred, substitute sherry extract. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add to taste.

Savory Italian-Style Cheese Ball

Servings: 1 cheese ball*


3/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin asiago cheese, shredded
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Wisconsin fontina cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Wisconsin parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
4 ounces Wisconsin cream cheese, cut in chunks and at room temperature
2 tablespoons prepared, refrigerated basil pesto
2 tablespoons half-and-half, if needed
1/4 cup marinated, sun-dried tomatoes, diced and dried well
Fresh basil, for garnish, if desired
Sun-dried tomatoes, slivered, for garnish, if desired
Crusty bread, Italian breadsticks, or crostini crackers

Cooking Directions:

Heat oven to 375º. Spread pine nuts on baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes or until golden. (Check after 3 minutes and stir.) Pour onto waxed paper and cool.

Place asiago, fontina, parmesan and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor, and process until well blended. Add pesto (drain first if the pesto is runny). Pulse to incorporate. If mixture is too stiff, add half-and-half to reach desired consistency. Remove mixture to bowl and stir or work in tomatoes with your hands.

When ready to serve, shape cheese mixture into a ball. Roll in toasted pine nuts, pushing nuts into the ball, if necessary.

Garnish with fresh basil and slivers of sun-dried tomatoes.

Serve with crusty bread, Italian breadsticks or crostini crackers.

*Recipe can be doubled for larger cheese ball.

Cheddar-Swiss Cheese Ball

Servings: 1 cheese ball


6 cups Wisconsin cheddar cheese, shredded
8 cups (2 pounds) Wisconsin Swiss cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) Wisconsin blue cheese, crumbled
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish, drained
4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/4 cup salted nuts, such as cashews or almonds, chopped

Cooking Directions:

In mixing bowl, blend cheddar and Swiss until smooth. Add blue cheese and remaining ingredients, except nuts. Mix well and shape into ball. Roll in chopped nuts. Serve with crackers.

Jack Bola De Queso

Servings: 1 cheese ball*


1 1/2 cups tortilla chips (plain, jalapeño, ranch or salsa flavored)
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin pepper jack* cheese, shredded
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 ounces Wisconsin cream cheese, cut in chunks and at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Mexican hot sauce, or to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons white onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/4 cup Spanish olives with pimento, finely-chopped
Fresh cilantro, red jalapeño slices, or additional olives (optional), for garnish
Tortilla chips or crackers

Cooking Directions:

Place tortilla chips in the bowl of food processor. Process to fine crumbs. Pour on waxed paper and set aside.

Place pepper jack, cheddar, cream cheese, and hot sauce in bowl of food processor. Process until well-blended and smooth. Add onion and oregano. Pulse briefly to incorporate. Add a little half-and-half if mixture is too stiff. (You may also use a heavy-duty electric mixer to make cheese mixture.) Stir in olives or work in with your hands. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Form mixture into ball. Roll ball in tortilla crumbs. Garnish with fresh cilantro, slices of red jalapeños and/or additional olives.

Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Variation: Use salsa jack (for a milder ball), or chipotle or habañero jack (for a hotter ball.) If using chipotle jack, replace Spanish olives with ripe black olives.

*Recipe can be doubled for larger cheese ball.

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