If making a cheese ball for your next party
event, try thinking outside of the box.
I've played with my food since I was a child.
Being an adult and a mother means I not only can play with my food, but cooking for family and friends allows me to play with their food and make them my willing or unwilling guinea pigs from time to time.
There have been some astounding achievements along my culinary journey. For dinner last Sunday night, I turned eggs, bacon, cheese, biscuit mix and canned fruit cocktail with whip cream into pancakes with fruit cocktail salad on top with a lovely homemade caramel sauce. My husband, who never once questioned my sanity, made the pancakes while I played mad scientist with the salad.
If you are curious for the recipe, let me play a little bit more before I post it. But it would be nice to know if anyone is interested.)
Hey, don't tell me you feel like something different and then not expect a surprise when you sit down at the dinner table.
My family sat down, looked at their plates and asked why we were eating dessert first. I refused to answer that question until they cleared their plates and told me whether they liked it or not.
Now would probably be a good time to explain dinner rules at my house.
If you make your own plate and sit down to eat, you have to eat it all whether you like it or not: Waste not, want not.
However, if I make your plate, you can tell me you don't like it and not eat it. Then you can go get something else to eat, because there is always some leftovers in the refrigerator, lunchmeat or peanut butter and jelly to make a sandwich.
BUT, if you sit down to the table and take the plate, you have agreed to at least try the food before you say no or turn up your nose at the food.
I guess dinner at my house is like Fear Factor, or maybe a weird version or Truth or Consequences.
Then again, I've been told being at my house is a lot like Survivor. Thank you for playing, but the tribe has spoken...
Don't like dinner? Well...
Anyway, my six guinea pigs sat down (brave souls considering what was on their plates) and ate their food. All but one, who was feeling a little bit under the weather and apologized for not being able to taste anything, liked it. They were surprised when I told them what they just ate, and even three went back for seconds.
The same thing recently happened when I took a cheese ball to a pitch-in dinner.
I like to think outside of the culinary box at functions like that, because who needs the same old same old, right?
Well, I decided to play with the normal cheese ball idea. I created a sweet version I like to call "Hot Chocolate Ball."
Now the first time I made it, I knew I was on the right track because my kids ate most of it before I put it on a plate for the guinea pigs to try. They didn't even use the cookies, just dug right in with spoons and gobbled it up.
"Cookies? You eat this with cookies?"
The second time I made it, it ended up at a Relay For Life event. I had nine people ask me for the recipe.
I felt horrible, because that was right as the recent Ice storm blew through Clay County, and I got too busy to send out the recipe. (ALSO: Part of the problem is that while I'm being mad scientist with my food, I don't write down what I do. So there's not a recipe to share. I had to make it again so I could share the recipe with people.)
I'm proud to say, this weekend, I tackled that task and here is the latest experiment from my laboratory.
Hot Chocolate Ball
Make this sauce first, which is really good poured over ice cream, pies or cakes.
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick of salted butter
1 cup water
1 cup good quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup of cream or milk
In a heavy saucepot, combine sugars, butter and water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar crystals completely dissolve. Once a rolling boil is achieved, turn down the heat and cook, while stirring, until the sauce turns a light Carmel-brown color.
Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking on low heat until sauce thickens. Be careful to not leave this sauce while cooking, because it can burn very quickly is not stirred.
Remove from heat to let cool, while making sure to stir every few minutes to keep the sauce loose.
Meanwhile, combine three packages of softened cream cheese with two cartons of Cool Whip. If you want a mocha flavor to the ball, add up to one tablespoon of instant coffee granules at this point.
Pour at least half of the sauce into the cream cheese mixture and mix well. Refrigerate this mix for at least 10-15 minutes before shaping into a ball.
In a bowl, mix one package of instant hot chocolate mix (and another tablespoon of instant coffee if you like), half a cup of crushed nuts (your choice) and a pinch of cinnamon (and/or a pinch cayenne if you want a little spice). Roll your cheese ball around in the bowl until completely covered. Wrap with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so that it can set and the flavors can mingle.
Serve with any type of cookie or graham crackers you like. Put the remaining sauce on the side for dipping the cookies or pour over the top for added chocolate flavor.