Roasted Pear And Gorgonzola Cheese Ball

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Around this past Thanksgiving, the New York Times ran an article entitled "Butterballs or Cheese Balls, an Online Barometer" about data on who searches for what recipes online during Thanksgiving.

Apparently in the southeast we searched for broccoli casserole a lot (they say the query mostly 'extends through Appalachia and ends in Florida').

And people in Oregon were looking up how to make a Tofurkey.

The most searched for pie recipe in Mississippi on Google was for pecan.

Also, they say:
And no matter where in the United States you are, don’t be surprised if the host molds refrigerated breadstick dough and bakes it into a cornucopia centerpiece. It is the break-out hit recipe of the season at Allrecipes.com, the nation’s largest cooking Web site.

Seriously, I found what they're talking about here.

The article even mentions that Midwesterners like to look up recipes for cheese balls.

I wonder if they know about how we Southerners like to sometimes do ours Rosalynn Carter - style. Well actually, Rosalynn does a cheese ring and pours strawberry preserves in the middle but if you find yourself opening a Mason jar of something sweet and pouring it over cheese, you can't help but think of that sweet-sweet lady in Plains, Georgia.

This is a new recipe I dreamed up this year. A few months ago I had a slice of pizza with roasted pear and crumbled Gorgonzola on top and thought those two things really go well together - I would have never in a million years come up with that. So now I made a roasted pear and Gorgonzola cheese ball. Oh! And if the idea of a cheese ball isn't your favorite, this makes a terrific dip.

Ingredients - this makes two regular-size cheese balls or one giant one:
2 pears, seeds removed, chopped (I like to leave the skin on but you can remove it if you like)
1 smallish yellow onion, grated
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 7oz package Gorgonzola cheese (feel free to add more than 7 oz, but I think right about that amount is going to be nice for most people)
2 or 3 (or so) cups of pecan halves or bits, your choice, for studding the outside
1 small jar jelly or preserves, your favorite. I used mayhaw for this.
1 little splash olive oil for pears to roast

Preheat the oven to 400*.

Remove seeds from the pears and chop the pears into chunks. Put the pear pieces onto a baking pan, splash with a little olive oil, and let roast for 15 minutes. This will bring out a really great flavor to the fruit.
When they come out of the oven, they won't be super-soft but just right for what we're doing.

Next, I grated the onion into the Cuisinart and then grated the roasted pear in with it. You could just as well grate the onion by hand into a bowl and then mash the roasted pear into that if you like:

In the Kitchenaid, put all the softened cream cheese into the bowl and start mixing. Add the Gorgonzola next, then the onion/pear mixture:
Taste. Isn't that great!? If you want, you can add any extra Gorgonzola now.

If you're using this for dip, it's ready to be plated now or after a stay in the refrigerator.

If you're making cheese balls, lay out a nice size of Saran, put half the mixture in the middle:

...and wrap up to make a ball shape. Twist all the extra Saran together and put that on the bottom so it doesn't come undone. Do the same with the other half of the mixture and place this in the freezer for about an hour. You can perfect the round shape a little later - this is just getting it hard enough to work with:

After it's been in the freezer for an hour or so, take out, unwrap, and roll each cheese ball into the pecans:

...and if you like, pour your favorite jelly or preserves on top. If the preserves have been in the refrigerator, you may want to pour them into a bowl and microwave for 20 or 30 seconds to get that nice and pourable:

Serve with crackers or teensy toasts:


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