Port Wine Cheese Ball Recipe
Feel free to make the port reduction up to several days in advance. You can also make and assemble the cheese ball a few days ahead of when you need it. All you'll need to do before serving is roll it in some chopped herbs (optional, but lovely as a garnish) and then let it sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes for the best texture. Enjoy!
And don't forget to scroll down to see what everyone else made this month!
- 2 cups ruby port
- 8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese at room temperature (the orange kind is more traditional)
- 3 oz cream cheese plus 1 Tablespoon at room temperature, divided use
- 3 oz half and half (straight from the fridge is fine)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- Generous 1½ teaspoons port wine reduction, divided use
- 1½ cups pecans
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika, or to taste
- Your choice of finely chopped fresh herbs for rolling (optional)
- Pour the port into a small saucepan.
- Crank up the heat and boil until reduced to a thick syrup with a volume of about ¼ cup.** Towards the end, watch it carefully. As the sugar content gets more concentrated, the chances of it burning increase.
- Once the bubbles go from "watery boiling" bubbles to a thicker, syrupy kind of boil, periodically pour it into a heat-proof liquid measure to check for volume.
- Set aside to cool.
- Cut the cheddar and 3 oz of the cream cheese into about 1" chunks and place in the bowl of your food processor. Begin by pulsing to get the cheese chopped up in little bits before just letting it run.
- Mix a slightly generous ½ teaspoon of the port wine reduction and the salt into the half and half.
- Slowly pour the dairy mixture in through the feed tube.
- Process until the cheese mixture is very, very smooth, about 2 minutes or so. Taste and add just a tiny bit more salt if you think it needs it.
- Clean off the blade of the food processor and eyeball the cheese mixture to divide it into thirds. Place ⅔ of the mixture in one bowl and leave the remaining third in the food processor.
- To that third, add 1 slightly generous teaspoon of port wine reduction and the remaining 1 Tablespoon of cream cheese. Process until smooth, scraping the sides of the container and processing some more until the mixture is a uniform purple-y color. You can add a touch more of the port wine concentrate if you'd like it more purple, but I was happy with mine, so I quit there.
- In a bowl large enough to hold all the cheese mixture (it makes about 2 cups or so of spread), layer the orange cheese and the purple cheese together in about ½" layers: orange-purple-orange-purple-orange.
- Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the cheese and refrigerate until firm.
- In the meantime, make fix the pecans.
- Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans, the salt and the hot smoked paprika and stir well with a spatula to coat all the nuts in the butter mixture.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until the nuts are nicely browned, the butter is sort of foamy and the whole thing smells great, about 5 minutes or so.
- Let the nuts cool spread out on several thicknesses of paper towels.
- Once the nuts are cool, chop them fairly finely and set aside.
- Spread a piece of plastic wrap out on a work surface.
- Run a spatula around the inside of your "cheese mold" and then cut it roughly into quarters. Put the four quarters out on the plastic wrap with the orange and purple stripes running horizontally on two of the quarters and vertically on the other two. You don't have to do this step. I just thought it would make the bands of color more interesting once you cut the ball open. Your choice.
- No matter how you scoop the cheese onto the plastic wrap, pull the wrap up over the cheese and then smoosh the cheese into a ball shape (or you could make 2 logs or do whatever you want)
- Spread the spiced pecans out in a thick layer on a plate and roll the cheese ball in the nuts until it is evenly coated. You may have to press some on with your hands. Just try to get it evenly coated. Wrap in a clean sheet of plastic wrap until serving time.
- About 45 minutes before serving, roll the ball in the optional chopped herbs and allow to sit at room temperature for best flavor and texture.
- Serve with crackers, pita chips, vegetables or whatever your heart desires.
- Rejoice in the deliciousness of your retro masterpiece.
So good, right? If you only have one port wine cheese ball recipe in your repertoire, please make it this one. Most of the other "copycat" recipes I've seen online either direct you to blend straight port in with all the cheese, which I think lends a harsh edge from the alcohol, or they make a sort of "port Jell-o" made with port and gelatin and then layer that in with the cheese spread. I'm sorry, but: yikes! I humbly submit this third alternative as being The Best. Do give it a try and see what you think!
And now, let's check out everyone else's deliciousness for Progressive Eats this month.
Wine and Cheese
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month's theme is Wine and Cheese and is hosted by me, who blogs at Pastry Chef Online. For our Wine and Cheese Theme, everyone has made a recipe that contains wine, cheese or both. We have some sweets for you, some savories and even a refreshing wine-based beverage!
If you're unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
- Port Wine Cheese Ball from Pastry Chef Online
- Cheese Fondue Pasta Ragout (Gluten-Free) from The Heritage Cook
- Apricot Riesling Mustard from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Chicken Scallopini from Stetted
- Chicken with Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce from Never Enough Thyme
- Red Wine Jelly from Creative Culinary
- Italian Wine Biscuits from Mother Would Know
- Moscato Zabaglione with Strawberries from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Pears Poached in Wine with Lemon Mascarpone from SpiceRoots
- Mascarpone Cheesecake from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Sarasota Lemonade from Miss in the Kitchen
Are you a port wine cheese ball recipe fan? Let me know what your favorite retro appetizer is--I'd love to travel down memory lane with you!
What would you like to do now? Click BACK to reread the first page of this post, or click NEXT to find all my other Progressive Eats recipes!