Valentine’s Day! Nutella Cheese Ball recipe and cookbook review: Cheese Balls by Dena Rayess

#ChronicleBooks #CheeseBalls #DenaRayess #HeamiLee #Cheese #Dessert #ValentinesDay

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching! What to make as a dessert? How about a glorious Nutella cheese ball with big fat juicy strawberries to accompany it! Thank you to Chronicle Books for letting me share the recipe with you!

Cheese Balls: 40 celebratory and cheese-licious recipes is a darling book that feels like it was hand-delivered by the 1970s. Retro and vintage lovers are going to adore it. And cheese lovers, but that should go without saying. The vibe of the cover picture and font are carried throughout. I never realized there were just so many kinds of cheese balls out there, and I want to try them all.

You’re into keto and want to avoid crackers? No problem! All of the savory cheese balls can be made in individual portions and at the ready to top that slab of protein and make it special!

She gives some instructions on how to shape cheese balls. When I read that the classic cheese ball recipe works really well in owl shape, I felt inspired and searched the web just to see what was possible in owl-shaped cheese balls. I found another blogger who loves to play with her food – wistfullywarped.com. Yeah, you should check her blog out! Anyway, cheese scuplting is fun!

Okay, here’s the benefit of hindsight: The problem is cheese gravity. Produce sculptures stay where you put them. Cheese is clearly alpha, and wants to be, at minimum, involved in the creative process. The owl is much tubbier than I was going for. Maybe he just has bad posture and is feeling uber relaxed in his nest. Yeah, I sort of do that in my chair at the kitchen table. Anyway, have fun, but expect spreading.

I’ll tell you all about the rest of the book later, but first, that recipe!


Cheese Balls: 40 celebratory and cheese-licious recipes by Dena Rayess, photographs by Heami Lee (Chronicle Books, 2018.)

Nutella Cheese Ball

This famous cocoa-hazelnut spread blends perfectly into cheese ball form to create an indulgent treat for the end of the day (or even breakfast – no judgement). Think of this as an interpretation of your favorite crepe. Go nuts and add bananas or strawberries, or dollop some whipped cream on top.

Prep time – 50 minutes

12 oz [340 g] cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup [95 g] Nutella or other cocoa-hazelnut spread
¼ cup [30 to 40 g] finely chopped bananas, strawberries, or fruit of your choice (optional) ~ I skipped this since I served it with strawberries ~ Jen
½ cup [70 g] salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1.Combine the cream cheese with the Nutella in a bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until fully combined. With a spatula, stir in the fruit (if using) until just combined. Form the mixture into a ball and refrigerate until set.

2. Spread the chopped peanuts on a rimmed plate.

3. About 10 minutes before serving (this ball tends to be softer, so keep it in the fridge until the last moment), remove the chilled cheese ball from the fridge. Roll the ball in the peanuts, pressing them firmly into the ball, until completely covered. Let soften at room temperature for 10 minutes. Serve.

Serve with: graham crackers, shortbread cookies


Let me tell you about the rest of that book….

My thoughts and pics of recipes I tried:

1) Classic Cheeseball – p 17. Cream cheese, cheddar and brie with a little Worcestershire and hot sauce, spices, and parsley. Loved it. It’s a little heavy on the Worcestershire, so I’ll tone that down a touch next time.

2) Nutella – p 47. This is a super creamy sweet and salty deliciousness with cream cheese and Nutella rolled in salty peanuts. Perfect with strawberries.

3) Jalapeno Popper – p 40. Great flavor. It’s mildly spicy. Roasty toasty jalapenos blended with cream cheese and pepper jack, rolled in toasted panko and topped with fried jalapenos. She does this in a football shape and it’s really cute. I think you could take it a step further and cut the fried jalapenos to make those laces across the top.

4) Everything Bagel – p 70. I decided to make this one as little individual cheeseballs for breakfast. The cheeseball is coated in everything bagel topping. Yum! I bought little bagel chips, smoked salmon, tomato, and picked a little dill to go with it.

5) Ranch and Bacon – p 22. Just as it sounds. Ranch fans and bacon fans will love it! It called for 3 Tablespoons of ranch. I wasn’t sure if she was talking powdered or dressing. I went with powdered and it’s a nice strong flavor.

6) Horseradish – p 21. Divine. I went with the dill option and used it to finish our t-bones. Perfect complement!

Some others I have flagged to try: Spinach-Artichoke – p 19 * Apple Pie – p 25 * Port Wine – p 28 * Horchata – p 45 * Garden Herb – p 53 * Pumpkin Pie – p 79 * Roasted Garlic – p 88 * Maple Bourbon – p 103

*I received a copy to explore and share my thoughts.


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Cheese Balls: 40 celebratory and cheese-licious recipes


Need a dinner to go with it? Last Valentine’s Day, I posted my Lobster Mac and Cheese – with beer pairings! 😀