Don’t buy a Port Wine Cheese Ball; instead make this Blue Cheese, Walnut, and Port Wine Pâté and you’ll have no regrets!
I admit I’ve purchased a port wine cheese ball many times over the years. I think they were a cheddar type of cheese and pink in color and I liked them fine until I discovered how much better they can be when made at home. Especially since I can use a cheese I think works much better than cheddar. When inspired to create a Holiday Appetizer, this Blue Cheese, Walnut, and Port Wine Pâté was at the top of my list and I love that it’s easy to make too. How did it taste? I had a teenager helping me in the kitchen and even she couldn’t put them down.
The inspiration for this appetizer came from the book ‘Neiman Marcus Taste,’ a gift from my daughter several years ago when she was working for Neiman’s as an assistant manager. I’m not sure it’s still in print but it’s a lovely book that I’m glad to have in my collection. I did find that you can get used copies online at Amazon for next to nothing; I would if I were you!
While the original recipe called for a Maytag Blue Cheese, I’m more of a Gorgonzola fan. I call it Blue Cheese Light as I don’t think it’s quite as pungent and since Gorgonzola is technically a blue cheese it works and that’s what I’ve used in this recipe. If you prefer a stronger blue cheese flavor by all means go for it!
The final product is a bit pinkish purple but I’m OK with that. To make it less purple I would have to use a tawny instead of a ruby port and quite frankly I like ruby port better. They’re younger with a fresh fruit aroma and meant to pair with blue cheese. The tawny ports have been aged longer and develop a nice amber color from that aging but are often also sweeter not to mention more expensive. I really enjoy Graham’s Six Grapes which I used in this appetizer but I’ve also served it for a chocolate wine tasting and it’s been great in both instances…so ruby it is for me!
One step of this recipe that I think critical is a final step that instructs to only mix the port wine into the rest of the ingredients for five seconds. I adhere to that religiously; it leaves some larger chunks of cheese in the mixture without turning the entire mixture purple and I love the taste as well as the pretty mottled look that results. My only revision? I like a bit of the toasted walnuts to be pressed into the top before serving too; you could say it’s not required but I’ve done it forever so yes, I guess now it is!
This is easy, pretty and delicious and can be made a day or two ahead. Perfect holiday appetizer wouldn’t you say? Check out the holiday appetizer list after the recipe for some more ideas too. Do you have a favorite appetizer? Would love to know what it is; leave a link if it’s handy and as always…Happy Holidays!
- 2 Tablespoons Butter, softened
- One-half pound Blue Cheese, room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup Toasted Walnuts, divided
- 3 Tbsp Port Wine
- Toasted baguette slices or Melba Toast
- Combine the butter, blue cheese and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed for about 20 seconds to lightly blend ingredients together.
- Add one half of the toasted walnuts and mix for about 10 seconds to incorporate.
- Pour the port wine into a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce until syrupy and the bubbles on the surface start to shine; about 2 minutes.
- Using a spatula, scrape the hot syrup into the mixing bowl and mix on low speed for 5 seconds.
- Line one larger mold or two small ones with plastic wrap with enough hanging over the edge to close over the top of the cheese once it's in the mold. Fold the cheese into the container(s) and press gently with a spatula to even it. Cover with the overlapping wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Unmold the next day onto a serving plate. Press the remaining toasted walnuts into the top of the cheese.
- Serve with toasted baguette slices or Melba Toast.
For Baguette Slices:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice a thin baguette into 1/2 inch slices and place them on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and bake just until brown; approximately 5 minutes. Watch closely.