Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chocolate and Cheese…Who Knew

When I was little I loved the old fashioned port wine cheese ball that my mother would make for holiday parties. She served it along with ritz crackers. I couldn't get enough. I have made several versions in my lifetime. Just this year the flavors of mascarpone, a creamy Italian cream cheese and chocolate came together with delicious results.
Chocolate Mascarpone Dessert Spread
Here we combine the flavors of fresh mascarpone with the decadence of dark chocolate- too delicious! If you like, chevre or cream cheese can be substituted. Slice some fresh fruit and serve this spread in the center. Surround it with shortbread cookies, savory crackers or graham crackers for spreading.
12 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate bits
8 oz mascarpone cheese
Melt the chocolate in the bowl of a double boiler. Add the mascarpone and stir until completely combined. Line a small bowl with plastic wrap. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl. Bring the plastic wrap up and twist to encase the chocolate. Cover and chill. When cool, unwrap the chocolate. Place on a pretty platter. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. For individual servings, use a small scoop or spoon to create little balls the size of your favorite truffles. Serve with shortbread cookies, savory crackers or graham crackers.

Here is a recipe for the 1970's version of the port wine cheese ball for old times sake:
Cheese Balls
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. Neufchatel cream cheese
1 cup Wispride cheese with Port Wine
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 Tablespoons chopped nuts
Cream together the cream cheese and port wine cheese. Add pepper, garlic powder and parsley. Shape into a ball and roll in chopped nuts. Serve with crackers. This cheese ball freezes well if you want to make it ahead.

Just in time for the Holidays- What do you get when you mix cream, vanilla, deep-dark-chocolate and a little heat…It's Bliss! I just have to share my secret. There are few recipes that I keep close to the vest. This is one of them. I will guarantee you that this one will please your sweetheart, your children, your parents or your guests. If they like dark chocolate- they will LOVE this. I frequently serve this as a fondue type dessert alongside fresh fruit slices. We have also draped it on warm berries, dipped marshmallows in it, spooned it over ice cream and licked it off a spoon. If you serve it warm, it's silky and liquid. At room temperature it starts to solidify. When chilled it is firm enough to scoop into truffles. You can even freeze it in ice cube trays and pop out a couple for a quick hot fudge fix. Any way you slice it- It's a moment of chocolate rapture. I've even deep fried it- see recipe below- for a molten chocolate meltdown. Hope this makes your holiday just a little bit sweeter.

Savor. Linger. Enjoy. -Cynthia

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