Pumpkin cheese balls for Halloween

The idea of “Halloween food” is a bit of a head-scratcher for a chef. Sure, you can make a crudité shaped like a black cat. You can serve a scary-looking punch with the obligatory floating hand. Or you can give your  food a cutesy name like “Goulish Goulash.” Alas, I’ve done all of the above.

But when people need to actually get fed, I need to give them more than just tricks and treats.

Here at Crocodile, I’ve come up with something that is a good match for Halloween because it showcases the quintessential Halloween symbol: the pumpkin! May I introduce to you my…

Pumpkin Cheese Balla classic cheese ball flavor rolled in crispy nacho cheese crumbs and shaped like a pumpkin to make it cute, clever and adorable — but at the same time comforting, filling and old-school delicious.

Tiarra works the cheese mixture into a ball.

You see, I’ve always had a morbid fascination with cheese balls. They are one of my guilty pleasures, I suppose. And I know I’m not alone… aren’t cheese balls always the first thing to go at any holiday party?

The cheese ball is an old-school hors d’oeuvre that had it’s heyday at least 60 years ago. Basically, it’s a cream-cheese-based ball that is fortified with a more substantial cheese (like aged cheddar or parmesan) and other flavorings. Then the cheese is formed into a sticky ball and rolled up in nuts or crumbs and served with crackers. What’s not to like?

Cheese balls can be made sweet or savory. I decided to take the savory approach. I didn’t want to end up with pumpkin pie!

I started with a big bowl of whipped cream cheese (18 pounds, to be precise). I tossed in Vermont cheddar, diced jalapeno, minced sun-dried tomato and dried onion flakes. Upon tasting, the cheese mixture lacked salt, so I threw in some garlic salt. Nice touch, if I do say so myself.

Next, dove into my big-assed bowl of cheese and formed seven, 3-pound balls.

I knew I wanted to roll my balls in cheesy crumbs to achieve that crispy coating on the outside. And the crumbs had to be orange, of course. My mind immediately turned to nachos and cheese curls.

My next step was to test these snack-aisle-superstars against each other. I put cheese curls in one bowl and nacho-flavored Doritos in another bowl. I whizzed them each into fine crumbs. Then I rolled one of my naked cheese balls into each pile of crumbs and did a tasting. (I challenge you to guess which coating we ended up using!)

To make the balls look like pumpkins, I put the stem from a green pepper on the top of each one and made some grooves running from the stem to the bottom of the ball. The bottom photo shows the finished product. It looks pretty good, wouldn’t you say?

And it tastes even better!

Our Pumpkin Cheese Balls are only available until October 31, so now’s the time to order. Each cheese ball serves up to 30 people and costs just $59.

Happy Halloween folks!

Cheese balls with coating, ready for decoration.

We tested two coatings for our cheese balls: powdered cheese curls and powdered nacho Dorito chips. Which do you think we selected?

Koren shows off the finished cheese ball.