Classic ’70’s Cheese Ball – my nostalgic Christmas nibble


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?

Christmas-cheeseball-Dec2012aTo 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.

Merry Christmas my cheesey friends, I hope yours is unique and delicious and full of wonderful memories!

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
Chopped walnuts

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.

17 thoughts on “Classic ’70’s Cheese Ball – my nostalgic Christmas nibble

  1. We still have cheese triangles: it is Kraft brand though and Australian. Scarily enough they are often found on the shelf rather than in the fridge section! My girls often have a cheese triangle in their lunch. My Mum loved making these too!

    1. Good to hear there are still triangles. I was always envious of kids who had them, they were the height of lunchbox cool. I never thought to look for them on the shelves! Though I did wonder about squishing a bunch of slices together and trying to grate them but I thought I’d end up grating my hand.

    2. It has taken me a long time to embrace spicy/hot thngis and I just finally entered the world of horseradish delight less than a year ago. It is AWESOME! I really don’t think you can go wrong when using it. Mmmm

  2. Thankyou for the great christmas memories and I never realized it was made with plastic cheese! Matt Sent from my iPhone

    1. Completely! Although now I know plastic cheese is really just melted cheese that has been stabilised I feel strangely better about it.

  3. I do think you would do yourself an injury grating them! We never had them in our school lunches….we were more likely to get a hunk of cheese cut off from a larger block! I never got into the plastic cheese, but do love their convenience for children’s lunches. I suspect the cheeses you used tasted WAY better!

    1. Yeah I’d love to do a taste test! I think it’s the half cup of chives, onion soup and walnuts that give it the distinctive flavour. It didn’t seem that different from my memory, although it lacked the orangey colour the processed cheese brought to it. Still good.

  4. Hi Lucy – how far ahead of serving can you make this? Could you make the cheese mixture up ahead of time and then just roll in the walnuts at the last minute?

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