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.
Cake Lover says
I have never made cheese balls. This recipe may change that. The combination of cheeses, cherries, and pistachios is mouth watering! Bravo for this newest recipe of yours!
Thanks! I hope you get a chance to try these 🙂
Tracy | Baking Mischief says
100% YES on the no Christmas music till after Thanksgiving thing. I love everything Christmas but not until after we get through Turkey Day! These cheese balls look perfect, and your reasoning behind making them mini is spot on. More crunchy stuff = always better. 😉
Yes, I am ALL about the crunch! Just a few more days and then we can break out the Christmas albums 😉 Thanks so much for stopping by!
DANG these look and sound delicious! They are adorable as well.
Thanks! Mini foods are always cute, aren’t they?!
Can anything be substituted for the goat cheese?
After taking a look around, I’ve found other similar recipes that use an equal amount (4 ounces) of blue cheese. There are also some recipes that use 1/4 cup grated cheddar along with 8 ounces of cream cheese, but I’m not sure how well the cheddar/pistachio/cherry flavors would go together.
Lovelovelove these! I’m sure this is one of those take two they’re small things and b4 you know it you’ve scarfed down half a dozen! Or maybe that’s just me, lol!! They’re gorgeous!
Nope, it’s definitely not just you 😉 Thanks so much, Mollie!
Mini version of a cheese ball!? What a great idea! I trrrry not to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but I did cave in this week, oh well!
It’s definitely hard not to cave – but, you know, sometimes your day really just needs that boost of good cheer! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
I don’t turn it on at home or in my car but some stores are playing Christmas music already. So, if I just didn’t go shopping I probably wouldn’t hear any! Great appetizer Mara – Christmas colors and favorite ingredients. Can’t live in Michigan and not like cherries 🙂
I was so taken with your appetizer that I forgot to say Happy Fiesta Friday and thanks for sharing a recipe that will appear at one of my gatherings for sure.
So true – it would be a travesty to live in Michigan and not like cherries! I actually made a cherry pie earlier today, with some cherries I picked over the summer. Thanks for hosting this week, and have a happy Thanksgiving! Let me know what you think if you give these a try sometime 🙂
Oh my! THIS is going on my Christmas menu!
I’m so glad to hear it! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do 🙂
Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons says
Great idea! I agree that the end of a larger cheese ball is very disappointing.
I’m glad you agree! I’m all about the crunchy bits. Thanks for stopping by!
Angie | Fiesta Friday says
Oh c’mon, Christmas music is good anytime! Okay, only when it gets cold. And only SOME songs (*NSYNC). And only when you’re in the mood. And when you’re drinking hot chocolate. Btw, my kind of appetizer (Read: it involves cheese) 😄
Oh gosh, I didn’t even realize/remember NSYNC *had* a Christmas album…perhaps I’ll have to check that out 😉 And I’m glad we’re on the same page about appetizers…I can’t say no to cheese!
Cat Sherrin says
These look so tasty! And I really like that eveything is edible which like you said makes them great for festive parties because you don’t need to worry about utensils or finding somewhere to put the left over cocktail stick!x
Thanks, Cat! And yes, not having to worry about a toothpick or whatever does certainly make things easier…plus, this way, there’s no evidence left over on my plate of how many I’ve scarfed down 😉
This is brilliant! I will absolutely make these for Christmas as I have a big party! Everyone loves cheese, how perfect. So simple and such a great recipe, love it 🙂
Thanks, Petra! I hope you and your guests enjoy these as much as I do 🙂
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says
Gotta love all those rules! I always make my bed every morning, but my husband likes to just throw up the covers and call it good. He’s so frustrating! These mini cheese balls look delicious and festive!
I consider myself a rather tidy person overall, but I think I’m the messier one in my relationship. I know it bugs Mr. Cake Pants that I don’t always fix the bed! Maybe I can make it up to him with some cheese balls…? I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!