Biting Chocolate Cheese
I'll admit it. When I was young I loved the port wine cheeseball my mother would make for holiday parties. She served it along with Ritz crackers and I couldn't get enough.
I have made several versions in my lifetime and this year the flavors of mascarpone, a creamy Italian cream cheese, and chocolate came together with delicious results that I'm hapy to share here:
Chocolate Mascarpone Dessert Spread
Combining the flavors of fresh mascarpone with the decadence of dark chocolate makes for excellent reults. If you like, chevre or cream cheese can be substituted for the mascarpone. Slice fresh fruit and serve this spread in the center. Surround it with shortbread cookies, savory crackers or graham crackers for spreading.
12 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate bits
8 oz mascarpone cheese
Melt the chocolate in the bowl of a double boiler. Add the mascarpone and stir until completely combined. Line a small bowl with plastic wrap. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl. Bring the plastic wrap up and twist to encase the chocolate. Cover and chill. When cool, unwrap the chocolate. Place on a pretty platter. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. For individual servings, use a small scoop or spoon to create little balls the size of your favorite truffles. Serve with shortbread cookies, savory crackers or graham crackers.
To help your tastebuds flash back to 1970, try my recipe for port wine cheese balls.
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. Neufchatel cream cheese
1 cup Wispride cheese with port
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 Tablespoons chopped nuts
Cream together the cream cheese and port wine cheese. Add pepper, garlic powder and parsley. Shape into a ball and roll in chopped nuts. Serve with crackers. This cheese ball freezes well if you want to make it ahead of special events.
Dark Chocolate Truffle Sauce
Serve this silken chocolate sauce atop ice cream or dip fresh fruit into its depths for a delightful end to any meal.
12 oz (2 cups) dark or bittersweet chocolate bits
2 oz unsweetened chocolate- chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Heat the cream in the bowl of a double boiler. Add the chocolates. Melt the chocolates together with the cream, whisking constantly until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt. Stir until completely combined. Serve warm.
Cover and chill leftovers. When cool, shape into a log or large ball. For individual servings, use a small scoop or spoon to create little balls the size of your favorite truffles. Roll in cocoa or grated chocolate.
Cynthia Finnemore Simonds has written two cookbooks published by Down East. Find them online at Down East.com.