History Cheese Ball Christmas Tree

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"According to legend," writes Michelle Buffardi, author of Great Balls of Cheese, "the first cheese ball in recorded history was made in 1801 by Elisha Brown, Jr. on his farm and presented to President Thomas Jefferson" at the White House. It's said to have weighed 1,235 pounds and was referred to as the "mammoth cheese."

So, what better way to kick off your holiday festivities than with a cheese ball? And not just any cheese ball, but a fully loaded Christmas tree cheese ball. Served on a platter with cold meats and assorted crackers, this is a “mammoth” showstopper!

Cheese Ball Christmas Tree

Ingredients:

For The Dip:
4 cups cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup red bell peppers, diced
1/4 cup dill pickles, finely diced
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder

Salt, to taste (if desired)

For The Decorations:

1 1/2 - 2 cups pitted mixed olives -- dried with paper towel
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (dried with paper towel)
Rosemary leaves/sprigs to decorate
Ritz, water crackers or pretzels for serving
Salami slices, for serving
Prosciutto slices, for serving

Directions:
In a bowl combine all the ingredients for the dip and mix until the ingredients are well combined.

Place a piece of non-stick plastic wrap on a clean bench top or work surface. Scoop the cream cheese mixture out onto the plastic wrap and completely cover with another piece of wrap (you may need two pieces to cover it).

Use your hands to mould the cream cheese into a tree shape. Then, carefully pick up the tree with one hand and peel off the plastic wrap on the bottom of the tree with your other hand. Place the tree straight onto a serving plate.

Use a cake spatula to smooth the edges. Decorate with olives, sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary leaves/sprigs, lightly pressing each element into the cream cheese to ensure they stay on.

Top with a star cut out of a thick slice of cheese.

Serve with crackers or pretzels of your choice and salami and prosciutto slices rolled up!


Eleanor's notes: The cream cheese is more stable in a wider tree shape. Don't attempt a tall, thin tree. The taller tree will fold over and collapse. :furious: If your cream cheese softens too much, it won't hold its shape so refrigerate it until it thickens again (about 20 minutes). You will have to pat each olive and sun dried tomato on a paper towel before decorating your tree to make sure they stay on. If they're wet with oil from the jar they will slide off.
 
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