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.
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.
- 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
- 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!
- Stir in dates. If using food processor, pulse only 5-6 times until mixed. Refrigerate until firm.
- 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.
- 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
- Combine flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk well.
- Use electric mixer to beat butter till softened. Add sugars. Mix well. Add honey, egg and vanilla extract and mix.
- Add dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture in three parts, mixing only enough to combine ingredients after each part.
- Divide dough in half. Place each half into a gallon-size zippered plastic and close the bag after removing any extra air.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.