Appetizers/ ColdApp

Vivian Howard’s Party Cheese Ball

Who doesn’t like cheese balls?

I’ve been thinking about cheese balls lately and how they have evolved from the 60’s when we use to make them. Seems like most recipes had grated cheddar cheese, green cheese and maybe some garlic. Remember that commercial for Ritz Crackers “everything sits better on a Ritz”.  Well certain spreads, for me, still sit better on a Ritz.

Almost all cheese balls then and now were/are rolled in some chopped nuts or herbs and most recipes probably had some Worcestershire sauce in the recipe some could have even had (hold your breath) Cheese Whiz.

What caught my eye about Vivian Howard’s Party Magnet Cheese Ball in Garden and Gun magazine was the addition of chopped dates. I have tweaked her original version; I thought the dates made it a little too sweet so I’m adding more blue cheese and goat cheese to the recipe. I also changed the pecans to walnuts because I love blue cheese spreads with walnuts added.

If you haven’t seen Vivian’s show A Chef’s Life you need to watch a few episodes. Even though she is saying good to that show, she has a new one coming out in the fall Called “South by Somewhere”. Her show first premiered on PBS and I’m not sure where you can watch it but check out your PBS and Amazon Prime. She and her husband own two restaurants, Chef and the Farmer and the Boiler Room in Kinston and a Pizzeria in Wilmington, NC. Her show is so interesting because it’s not just a bunch of recipes she’s teaching you how to make; it showcases the farmer and other people that teach her how to make things the old fashion way and then she puts her own unique spin on those recipes.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Some cheesy type spreads from this blog that you may want to try are my Beefy Roasted Red Pepper Spread, Domaine Chandon Blue Cheese Spreads and even my Fromage Fort are all cheesy yummy spreadable appetizers that fit great on any kind of cracker or bread.

I ended up using all the goat cheese and half of the blue cheese.

Chop the dates into small pieces.

Chop the green onions, green and white parts and set aside.

If you will line your dish with plastic wrap you can unmold it onto serving platter.

When ready to serve simply pull on the plastic wrap and unmold the cheeseball.

Serve with sliced toasted baguettes or a crispy cracker.

Vivian Howard's Party Cheese Ball


  • 4 oz. high-quality blue cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped dates
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced (green and white)
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Salt-and-Butter-Roasted Pecans recipe below, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


  • 2 cups pecan halves or pieces I used walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt divided


  1. For the cheese ball:

    Take the blue cheese, butter, goat cheese, and cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften 30 minutes before making your cheese-ball mixture.

    In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all the ingredients except for the pecans and parsley. Paddle it up till homogenous. It will be loose and sticky and you’ll wonder how you’re ever going to form that mess into a ball. The answer is, you transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so. During that time the cheese mix will firm up enough for you to pat it into a sphere. Once it’s stiff enough to hold up, form the ball and roll that ball in the pecans, followed by parsley.

    For the salt-and-butter-roasted pecans:

    Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Toss the pecans thoroughly with the melted butter and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and slide that sheet onto the middle rack of your oven. Roast the pecans for 11 minutes if using whole pecans and 10 minutes if you’re using pieces.

    Bring the slightly darkened and toasty-smelling pecans out of the oven and hit them with the remaining salt. Let them cool 5 minutes before you eat them. These will keep for 7 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

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