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Miniature Blue Cheese Balls with Winter Fruit

Miniature Blue Cheese Balls with Winter FruitThe nutty, blue cheese mixture makes a terrific filling for stewed dried apricots, plums (prunes) and Medjool dates. Make a party plate with assorted winter fruits for variety.

Recipe Ingredients:

30 dried apricots
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
4 ounces cream cheese cut in chunks and room temperature
3 ounces (3/4 cup) Wisconsin blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon French brandy*
1/2 tablespoon grated yellow onion

Cooking Directions:

  1. Place the apricots in a sauce pan. Add water barely to cover. Stir in vanilla. 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.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  3. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet. Toast the pecans for 4 to 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.
  4. Place the cream cheese, 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.
  5. 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 nuts.

Makes about 30 appetizers.

*If a nonalcoholic mixture is preferred, substitute sherry extract. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add to taste.

Recipe and photograph provided courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.