This charming and unique homemade pine cone cheese ball with crunchy almonds and spicy peppers is full of flavor and so perfect for the winter season holiday gathering.
Key Ingredients Needed
- 1-1/2 cups whole almonds, these add a nuttiness and some texture, as well as serving as the “scales” of the pine cone.
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened, to form the base of your cheese mixture.
- 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, diced, provides some extra flavor and heat to your dish.
- 1/2 cup Colby jack cheese, grated, to add extra cheesiness.
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated, to add extra cheesiness.
- 1/2 cup finely chopped ham, introduces a subtle smokiness to the cheese mixture.
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional), warms up the flavors of this appetizer.
- Salt and pepper help tie together and highlight all the flavors.
Instructions/Step By Step Directions
Step 1: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread almonds out on a baking sheet, and bake until lightly toasted, about 15 – 20 minutes. Roasting the almonds brings out some of the flavors and makes them just a bit easier to eat as well.
Step 2: In a large bowl, soften the cream cheese with a spoon or spatula. Soften the cream cheese by removing from the fridge and letting stand for several hours.
Step 3: Add the ham and diced jalapeno. Adding ingredients like peppers and ham make this cheese ball so flavorful!
Step 4: Add the cheddar and Colby jack cheeses, then mix well to incorporate.
Step 5: Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the fridge overnight.
Step 6: On a serving platter, divide cheese mixture into 2 portions and shape each like a pine cone. It might be helpful to keep a real pine cone handy for reference while decorating.
Step 7: Press the almonds at a slight angle into the cheese, starting at the narrow end of the pine cone shape and working towards the larger end. Do this in rows, continuing to overlap rows until all the cheese is covered with almonds. The easiest way to make your cheese ball firmer is to chill it for an appropriate amount of time. If you find it gets too soft while you’re attaching all of the almonds, place it back in the fridge for ten or so minutes and continue the process. The longer it chills, the better it will hold its shape.
Step 8: Garnish with seasonal decor of your choice or garnish with rosemary sprigs or oregano.
Step 9: Serve at room temperature with quality crackers or crusty bread to dip. It may be best to include a cheese spreading knife as well to prevent dipped items from breaking.
- YIELD: 20
- SERVING SIZE: 1
Amount Per Serving
- CALORIES: 152
- TOTAL FAT: 13g
- SATURATED FAT: 4g
- TRANS FAT: 0g
- UNSATURATED FAT: 8g
- CHOLESTEROL: 19mg
- SODIUM: 194mg
- CARBOHYDRATES: 4g
- FIBER: 2g
- SUGAR: 1g
- PROTEIN: 6g
* All nutritional information provided is approximate/estimated and can vary depending on several factors such as the exact ingredients you use, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.
* Nutritional values were obtained with automatic software using the amounts of products used. To get the most accurate representation of the nutritional values, you should calculate them with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for the nutritional information obtained to be accurate.