I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to rules—rules set by other people, that is. Unfortunately (or perhaps naturally?), over the course of my graduate school career I’ve gotten a bit lax about some of my self-imposed rules (e.g. making the bed every morning, hanging up my clothes every night, washing all the dirty dishes before going to bed, etc.). But you know which Mara-made rule I always abide by, no matter how much I want to break it? The one about not listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. I was sorely tempted while assembling and photographing these cherry pistachio mini cheese balls, though. Everything felt so festive!
These cherry pistachio mini cheese balls are a fantastic(ally easy) appetizer for any and all of your holiday entertaining needs! Why mini cheese balls, you may ask? For me, it’s a matter of surface area. As much as I love cheese—I’ve joked before that cheese is my spirit animal—I don’t really enjoy eating it plain. With a traditional, larger cheese ball, you only get a tiny bit of the tasty stuff rolled on the outside in any given bite, and some cuts don’t have any at all! But mini cheese balls have a more balanced surface area-to-volume of cheese ratio, so you’re guaranteed plenty of nutty goodness. Plus, miniature bites make for great party fare, since it’s easier to carry on a conversation when you don’t have to think about utensils.
Do you tend to stick to rules that you set for yourself? If you celebrate Christmas, when do you start listening to Christmas music? I’m holding out until after Thanksgiving, but you can bet that the music is coming on and the decorations are going up the very next morning!
- 1 cup pistachios
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 ounces goat cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 20-24 pretzel sticks
- Place the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the largest pieces are no bigger than peas (about 10 quick pulses). Transfer the pieces to a shallow bowl and set aside.
- Place the cream cheese and goat cheese in food processor and process until smooth. Add the cherries and pulse until they are roughly chopped and incorporated into the cheese. Transfer into a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes.
- Using your hands, shape the cheese into 1-inch balls. This will be a bit messy. You may prefer to wet your hands slightly to keep the cheese from sticking to them, but be warned that this can make for some very slippery rolling! Roll the balls in the pistachio pieces until covered, gently reshaping as needed. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until a few minutes before you are ready to serve them (for best results, I recommend serving these within 4-6 hours of making them).
- Just before serving, press a pretzel stick into the center of each cheese ball.
- Makes 20-24 mini cheese balls.
- If you don’t have a food processor, you can also just mix together the cheeses by hand, but be sure to let them warm up to room temperature first.
- I recommend using dry roasted pistachios (unsalted or salted) for this recipe.
- If you’re not a fan of pretzels, these are also excellent served with crackers.