The goat cheese base is a favorite go-to of mine for several different appetizers or party starters. It works well for sweet or savory dishes and you can do so many different variations; it works for almost any occasion. You can stuff it into endive or roll it into "truffles"... either way, it is an easy, delicious appetizer that will always impress your guests. For the kids, increase the amount of cream cheese. The Cheesy Chicken Bon-Bons are a great dish for kids as it includes some of their favorites: chicken, ranch dressing and an animal cracker coating. You can substitute canned chicken for fresh and prepared ranch dressing if you don't have time to make everything from scratch.
Goat Cheese Filling:
- 1 1/2 cups goat cheese, at room temperature (12 ounces)
- 1 cup cream cheese, at room temperature (8 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Salmon Stuffed Endive:
- 1 cup smoked salmon, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon finely minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 2 to 3 heads endive, chilled (about 24 leaves)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1 1/2 ounces salmon roe, for garnish, optional
Cheesy Chicken Bon-Bons:
- 10 bone-in chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely minced (you can use dried parsley but use less)
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh dill
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
- Dash Worcestershire sauce
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 large package animal crackers
For the goat cheese filling: Mix the goat cheese, 1/2 cup of the cream cheese, the cream, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, vinegar, 2 tablespoons salt and pepper in the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until well blended and creamy. Remove half of the goat cheese filling to a separate bowl and add in the remaining 1/2 cup cream cheese. Set aside and chill for the cheesy chicken bon-bons.
For the salmon stuffed endive: Add the salmon, the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, the dill and parsley to the first half of the goat cheese filling. Mix to combine well. Check the seasoning; you may want to add some salt or pepper but that will depend on the flavor your salmon has.
Transfer the filling into a zip-top bag and cut the tip to make a medium opening, or use a pastry bag with a medium tip. The filling is dense so you need a larger opening to pipe it. You can also use a spoon to fill the endive but piping is faster. Pipe the mixture onto the tip of the endive. Keep the endive chilled until serving time.
To serve, garnish with a bit of lemon zest, a sprinkle of toasted almonds and a bit of the salmon roe if using on top.
For the chicken bon-bons: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the chicken thighs on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and roast for 10 minutes more (about 15 minutes per pound cooking time, depending on the size of the thighs. To check doneness, pierce the thigh in the thickest part; if the juices run clear, it is likely done). Set aside to cool. Remove the chicken from the bone and mince; not too fine, but not big chunks, either.
While the chicken is cooling, mix the sour cream, parsley, chives, dill, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne and a big pinch salt into the reserved goat cheese filling. Add the chopped chicken and chill again.
Select 15 to 20 of the animal crackers for garnish. Put 2 cups of the remaining animal crackers into a food processor and pulse to make them into fine crumbs. Pour the crumbs onto a plate. Using a very small ice cream scoop (so you have consistent size), scoop the chicken mixture and roll into small balls. Roll in the crumbs and garnish with an animal cracker. Do this final step just before serving so the cracker crumbs don't get too damp.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. The Food Network Kitchens have not tested it for home use, therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.