Miniature Wisconsin Blue Cheese Balls with Winter Fruit
30 dried apricots
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks and at room temperature
3 ounces (3/4 cup) Wisconsin Blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon French brandy*
1/2 tablespoon grated yellow onion
Place the apricots in a sauce pan. Add water barely to cover. Stir in vanilla
extract. Bring the apricots to a boil, uncovered, and simmer until tender, 1-4
minutes, depending on the dryness of the apricots. Test with a fork. The apricots
should be tender but not limp.
Drain and dry well. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet.
Toast the pecans for 4-5 minutes, until aromatic. Stir after 2 minutes and
watch so the nuts do not scorch.
Remove and pour pecans on waxed paper to cool.
Whirl the pecans in a blender or food processor until very fine. Set aside.
Place the Cream Cheese, Wisconsin Blue cheese and brandy in the bowl of
a food processor.
Pulse until all ingredients are well blended.
Add the onion and pulse briefly to incorporate. (You may also blend the
mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer.)
Remove mixture to a bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Remove cheese mixture from refrigerator.
Form miniature balls and dip tops in pecans.
Place on an apricot, nut side up.
Repeat until all mixture is used. The mixture is soft – if too soft, spoon
onto apricots, rounding the top and sprinkle with apricots.
Yield: about 30 miniature balls
* If a nonalcoholic mixture is preferred, substitute sherry extract. Start with
1/4 teaspoon and add to taste.
This mixture is a terrific filling for stewed dried plums (prunes) and Majool
dates. Make a party plate with all winter fruits – apricots, dried plums and dates
– for variety.