Cheese. We just can’t seem to stay away from the stuff (but let’s be honest, we’re not trying.) Our friend Michelle Buffardi happens to be a bit of an expert on the tasty snack, having written a book called “Great Balls of Cheese,” which elevates the lackluster cheese ball of your grandmother’s era to a gourmet treat. We invited her to the shop for one of our Saturday Sippers and it was an explosion of all good things. She made a Sweet Almond Hedgehog cheese ball as well as a Boozy Cherry one and we washed them both down with our fruity yet complex La Kiuva Rosé de Vallée 2012 ($17).
Lucky for us, she was also selling the book that day, so we snagged a few copies. Here’s the recipe for the Sweet Almond Hedgehog, a now necessary addition to any future dinner parties. Want the other recipes? Michelle’s book is sold on Amazon. Cheese balls for all!
Sweet Almond Hedgehog
- 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 ⁄ 2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 dark raisins, for decorating
- Vanilla wafer cookies, for serving
Crush 2 tablespoons of the almonds and set the remaining slivers aside.
Using a stand mixer or a bowl and a spatula, mix together the 2 tablespoons crushed almonds, the cream cheese, sugar, almond extract, and vanilla extract until combined. Form the mixture into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Before serving, unwrap the cheese ball and form into the shape of a hedgehog, like a teardrop. Arrange the remaining almonds on the back of the hedgehog to look like quills (choose the ones with the best shape for the quills). Cut 1 raisin in half for each of the eyes and put a whole raisin at the tip of the hedgehog’s face for the nose. Serve with vanilla wafer cookies.