Move aside, Pinterest recipes and over-the-top charcuterie spreads. This Christmas Tree-shaped cheese ball will be the hit of your holiday party. A simple blend of cream cheese and herbs transforms into a show stopping appetizer for holiday parties with just a little bit of creativity, perfect for getting “oohs” and “aahs” from even your hardest-to-please guests.
This cute idea from chef Alejandra Ramos starts by putting some softened cream cheese into a mixing bowl, along with some shredded cheese (varieties like cheddar or asiago work well); a mix of fresh herbs like chives and parsley; spices such as salt, pepper, lemon zest and garlic; and a splash of heavy cream.
Mix all of the ingredients together until well-blended before transferring to a cake platter or serving tray and shaping. Once the “tree” shape is finished, you can decorate it by pressing the chopped parsley all over the tree to make it look green, and adding the “ornaments” by gently studding it with pomegranate arils, pine nuts and rosemary sprigs around the tree in a desired pattern.
Top with a cut-out pepper or cheese star garnish. With an appetizer this adorable, some guests might be a bit too shy to dig in, so you might have to be the first one to help yourself to get the party started!
Swap Option: Have fun with it! Feel free to swap in your favorite soft and creamy cheeses or a different mixture of herbs to achieve the green hue.
Technique Tip: Coat your hands with olive oil, dip in water or wrap with plastic wrap in order to shape the cheese and prevent it from sticking to your hands.
- 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup shredded white cheddar or asiago cheese
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
- Lemon zest, grated from one whole lemon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely minced
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 small parsley bunch, stems removed, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup—curly parsley looks more “tree like” but use whatever is available)
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils or red bell pepper, 1/4-inch dice
- pine nuts or sliced almonds
- fresh rosemary sprigs
- yellow bell pepper or thick slice of cheese, cut into the shape of a star
In the base of an electric stand mixer, combine softened cream cheese, shredded cheese, heavy cream, garlic, lemon zest, salt, black pepper, chives, parsley leaves and dried oregano and mix until all the ingredients are smooth and evenly incorporated. Scrape the mixture onto the center of a cake stand or other serving platter and use clean hands to press and shape it into a tree-like cone.2.
Once the shape is finished, you can start to decorate. Start by pressing the chopped parsley all over the tree to make it look green. Add the “ornaments” by gently pressing the pomegranate arils, pine nuts and rosemary sprigs around the tree in a desired pattern. Top with the pepper or cheese star garnish.3.
Surround the tree display with crackers and serve immediately. Or, if making in advance and chilling, remove from refrigerator at least two hours before serving to allow the cheese to soften and become spreadable.