Christmas is a time for nostalgia and when I want a cheese redolent of Christmases past, it’s not Stilton or vintage Cheddar I hanker for, but my Mum’s classic ’70’s Cheese Ball. This is the cheesey taste of Christmas to me. Rolled in walnuts, paired with Snax biscuits, and a glass of something bubbly, it’s a perfect Noel nibble. Just right for my Christmas barbie last week.
My Mum’s recipe uses processed cheese and, to my dismay, I couldn’t find blocks of Chesdale in the supermarket. I was so concerned I rang Goodman Fielder and was told by a customer service person that the product had been ‘deleted, due to low customer demand”. RIP triangles and blocks of plastic cheeses, only slices remain.
I was strangely gutted as a taste of my childhood was gone. I mean there’s nothing like plastic cheese when you want it. But what is it?
To my surprise it does actually contain cheese. It’s made by heating and mixing natural cheeses, typically to about 70-80°C, and adding emulsifying salts to stabilise. This produces a homogeneous plastic mass that has a longer shelf life, is smooth and uniform in color, melts consistently, slices cleanly and has a compact body. All you want in an industrial cheese!
So I substituted and used a mixture of Jarlsberg and cream cheese. I kept the dried onion and tomato sauce to stay true to the ‘70s vibe. These are classic stalwarts of New Zealand cuisine that, like Kiwi dip, always gets eaten at a party!
I love the place of nostalgia in Christmas cuisine. We all have our own traditions, as unique as each of us. What are yours? This Cheese Ball along with ham sandwiches on thin white bread with hot English mustard are two of my touchstones of the season.
Molly’s Cheese Ball
2pks Chesdale cheese – I used 250g cream cheese and Jarlsberg. You could use any sweet type, maybe Emmental or NZ Gruyere
250g Tasty cheese
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 pk Maggi onion soup
1 tblsp mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped chives
2 pinches each curry powder and cayenne pepper
1 clove of garlic
Grate the cheeses, toss in the Chives, add the dry ingredients, then the wet. Combine well. Mould into a ball and roll in chopped walnuts.
Serve with Snax biscuits and a slice of memory lane.