Servings: 30 mini 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 room temperature
4 ounces (3/4 cup) Wisconsin blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon French brandy*
1/2 tablespoon grated yellow onion
Place 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 apricots. Test with fork. The apricots should be tender but not limp. Drain and dry well. Set aside.
Preheat 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 and brandy in food processor bowl. 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.