Who doesn't love a cheese ball?! This is a favorite family appetizer in my family, the perfect precursor to a later meal or addition to the hors d'oeuvres table at a cocktail party. This year, half of our out-of-town guests were arriving late Christmas evening, pushing our Christmas supper to well after the traditional dinner hour. I had this cheese ball on hand to hold us over until everyone had arrived and all the gifts had been unwrapped. It's equally wonderful for a game night snack or a gift to surprise neighbors or a favorite teacher! Change up the cheese, dried fruit, herbs, and nuts to make the flavor your own!
1 cup tawny port
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 2-cup package shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, divided
2 teaspoons tawny port
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Boil 1 cup tawny port in a small saucepan until reduced to 2 tablespoons.
Combine cream cheese, shredded cheese, cherries, 1 tablespoon chives, remaining 2 teaspoons port, and nutmeg in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Season with salt and pepper. Stir port syrup into cheese mixture just to swirl. Roll into a ball.
Combine pecans and remaining chives and spread on a plate or in a shallow dish. Roll cheese ball into mixture to coat evenly on all sides. Wrap in plastic and chill until ready to serve.