Snowman Cheese Ball

'Tis the season for last-minute appetizers. Here's one to be merry about; it's easy, cheesy and doubles as table decor. It's a cheese ball . . . snowman. Learn how you can make one in minutes.

Start by making a cheese ball, which is super easy. Just a few ingredients in a mixer. You don't even need a stand mixer -- you can use a bowl and a hand mixer, or if your cream cheese is soft enough, mash it all up with a spatula.

Cheese Ball

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded, plus additional for rolling
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
coarse salt and white pepper, to taste

Put all ingredients into the bowl of a mixer, and blend thoroughly. Shape as desired, and refrigerate.

** If you're making a traditional cheese ball, when you're ready to serve, roll the ball into toasted crushed nuts and serve on a platter with crackers and crudites.

But skip tradition this time and roll your cheese into three equal-sized balls instead of one (or 6 if you've doubled the recipe; the recipe doubles easily).

If desired, roll the cheese balls in shredded cheddar for a snowier effect. Set the first cheese ball on a platter and top with the other two. The weight of the cheese will prevent the balls from falling over. Decorate your snowman (or lady) as you wish: peppercorns make great eyes and mouth, a slice of carrot is a natural snowman nose, pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries work well as buttons, a scallion ties up into a very nice scarf, and a cracker or cookie tops it all off like a hat or beret. And every snowperson needs too-skinny arms, so stick some spaghetti or pretzel sticks into the body for arms. Surround the decorated cheese snowman with crackers and sliced crudites, and enjoy. If you're feeling ambitious or are expecting a very large number of guests, endeavor to make a cheese ball Christmas tree, too.

Find more holiday appetizers to serve with your cheese ball and tell us what you're making for your holiday buffet.

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