Date Cheese Ball with Homemade Graham Crackers for a New Year’s Celebration

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Happy New Year! May you have a wonderful and blessed 2010. I’m celebrating with a simple cheese ball (or square in this case) with a touch of sweetness served with simple, homemade graham crackers.

Dates are nature’s little sugar cubes, shaped like a miniature football and apparently soaked in God’s magic elixir. I don’t normally eat them naked–too sweet and sticky. But I love chopping and adding them to bread such as my Banana Whole Wheat Yeast Bread, cookies or this delicious cream cheese ball.

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Serve with any buttery cracker or try them with thin and crispy homemade graham crackers. They are well worth the trouble for a party or as a special treat for the family. You won’t believe how fresh tasting they are compared to store bought crackers.

I used the same method of rolling out the dough for the crackers as I did with my Pink Shortbread Cookies. Thanks to Dorie Greenspan for this idea as published in her book Baking, From My Home to Yours.

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Date Cheese Ball
Recipe type: Appetizer
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup cottage cheese, drained
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup dates, seeds removed and finely chopped (I prefer to buy the whole ones and chop them myself; the commercially chopped dates seem to have a lot of sugar added.)
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  1. Combine cream cheese, cottage cheese and lemon juice in mixer or food processor until smooth. No one will be able to discern the use of cottage cheese. Promise!
  2. Stir in dates. If using food processor, pulse only 5-6 times until mixed. Refrigerate until firm.
  3. Roll chilled cheese mixture in pecans that have been toasted in the microwave on a paper plate and then chopped for easy cleanup. Make a ball or get creative. Find a cool little dish with an oval or square shape or even a funnel for a cone shape. Line with plastic wrap. Force cheese mixture into shape of bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



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Rolling out graham crackers with help of zippered plastic bag



Homemade Graham Crackers
Recipe type: Appetizer Cookies
Slightly sweet cream cheese ball laced with dates--rolled in pecans. Serve with homemade graham crackers.
  • 1¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, slightly firm
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk well.
  2. Use electric mixer to beat butter till softened. Add sugars. Mix well. Add honey, egg and vanilla extract and mix.
  3. Add dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture in three parts, mixing only enough to combine ingredients after each part.
  4. Divide dough in half. Place each half into a gallon-size zippered plastic and close the bag after removing any extra air.
  5. Leaving dough in bag, roll until dough fills bag and is uniform in width all the way to the corners. Place in freezer until stiff. This may be the hardest part of this recipe--finding a place to lay the bags flat in a stuffed freezer.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Using scissors, cut bag open so top layer of plastic can be pulled back to reveal dough. Using knife, pastry cutter or pizza cutter, cut crackers in desired size. Transfer to baking sheet. Poke with fork if desired. This step needs to be done quickly before dough warms and becomes too soft to handle.
  7. Bake for 13-14 minutes (time may vary according to size of your crackers) or until lightly brown around the edges. Let cool for a couple minutes before removing to rack to cool.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

terry m. December 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Just a note, in case anyone else does a search for Carole Walter’s graham cracker recipe, lie I did.
I have her book, but wanted to find the recipe online, so I could transfer it onto my online recipe folder. I make these crackers every year for Christmas, dipped in chocolate. When I used your recipe it was way to crumbly. So I checked the book. Her recipe calls for 3/4 cup of butter instead of 1/4 cup.
You may have done that on purpose, and maybe it works !! But I just wanted to give a tip in case anyone else was having trouble.


Paula December 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm

That is my mistake. You are correct about 3/4 cup. I also have the recipe listed on this post and it is correct. So sorry Terry. Love these graham crackers.


Becky Dills November 1, 2011 at 8:23 am

OMG! This morning, while I should be job hunting on line, I stumbled across You are my new favorite person! I have sat here way too long looking at all of your recipes and reading how to make my own yogurt. I just had to let you know how impressed I am. I am a person who loves to cook and everyone wants all get togethers to be at our house so that I have to be the cook. Your recipes are ones I cannot wait to try. We are having a family dinner (we do this once a month to keep family in touch) this weekend and I am making some of your dinner rolls for sure. Thank you for taking the time to share your recipes and tips.


Alyssa February 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I have always wanted to try homemade graham crackers! I whipped these puppies up last week and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top before baking. My five-year-old graham cracker connoisseur declared, “These are gooder than the store-bought ones, Mama! Yummy!” A million thank-yous for the awesome idea to roll them out in a ziploc bag and freeze before cutting!! What genius. They were super-easy to make.

The only trouble I had was getting the dough to form a ball. I needed to add maybe 1/4 c. of water to get it to stick together and not be too floury.


Paula February 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Glad the ziploc bag worked for you. I use it for MANY recipes.


Paula December 10, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I note you left this comment almost two years ago but I just figured out why you couldn’t get the dough to form a ball. There was a typo in the recipe, which I have corrected. Instead of 1/4 cup of butter, there should be 3/4 cup of butter. I’m so thankful to the commenter who noticed it.


Jill January 1, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Both recipes sound fabulous! I love dates, and I’ve been on the hunt for a good graham cracker recipe. I like your bold text note about the cottage cheese. I like cottage cheese, but some people are so scared of it!


mike December 31, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Ok, how many people make their own cheeseballs, turn around and make their own graham crackers? Tell, me, how many? 🙂 (I probably would)! These look incredible – and the dates (I love dates – but not a lot of people I know do)! I am going to make this, of course I have everything in the house except the dates. Those crackers look SO professional (Keebler, watch out)! Kudos to you for all the effort – I can just imagine everything tastes spectaular – and Happy New Year!


Beth Pope January 1, 2010 at 9:51 am

Happy New Year Paula! I am going to try these homemade graham crackers – Don will absolutely love them- he doesn’t like things too sweet – and the cheeseball looks wonderful – We’re having a bunch over today and I’m making your blackeyed pea dip – thanks for sharing! The pictures are incredible.


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