Robert Rothschild Farm Cheese Balls & Dips
Cheese Balls Are New Again With Robert Rothschild’s Easy Offerings
CAPSULE REPORT: There are are different types of cheese balls: some of us grew up with round balls of cheddar spreads coated in nuts, others made them with cream cheese. Robert Rothschild Farm offers two types of the latter: a pre-mixed, shelf-stable “cheese ball in a jar” that can be shaped into a ball or scooped and spread; and a mix to form into a ball with your own cream cheese. The shelf-stable product is a good item to keep in the pantry for quick hors d’oeuvre. Either makes a nice hostess gift.
“If you want to eat cream cheese,” our mother admonished, “why not get a bagel, or make a good cheesecake? Mom is a New Yorker, and doesn’t get the cheese ball. In fact, a famous food authority in a recent interview wished the cheese ball would go the way of the dodo bird. She doesn’t get it either.
If you buy the product in the jar, it’s pre-mixed and the flavors are better-blended by professional machinery than they could be by hand, even if you let the flavors sit overnight. You can mold it into a ball—but given the super-smooth consistency and pretty color, you might be tempted to use it as a cracker or cookie spread from the jar, and prepare a tray of crackers or hors d’oeuvre. You can do that with the boxed mixes of course—but after all that labor, you darn well want to make that round cheese ball!
The jars contain enough product to make one cheese ball; the boxed mixes, which are the same price, contain enough dry mix to assemble two cheese balls with toppings—plus the cost of your own cream cheese, which still makes the boxes a much better value. The balls made from mix seem plainer in flavor but come with added toppings to compensate. To make a cheese ball, simply combine the dry mix with 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, mix until smooth and refrigerate until firm, one to two hours. Then, hand-shape into a ball (or a triangle, if your imagination and dexterity allow) and drizzle with the included topping. It will taste better if you let the flavors blend for several hours or overnight.
There’s no alcohol flavor in any of the cheese balls, and most have no alcohol ingredient. Chocolate Martini included vodka as the last ingredient on a long list—we think that a tiny amount had been added just to justify calling the product “Martini.” While naming products is fun, in our opinion the decision to apply “cocktail” names to some of the flavors in the line, but not all, is confusing to consumers. The products work just as well at tea parties as cocktail parties, and the names may scare off or confuse some consumers. Perhaps modified labeling, e.g. “No Alcohol or Alcoholic Flavor,” would have helped. Then, we could have served it to youngsters, who would enjoy spreading most of the flavors on cookies and crackers.
Dirty Martini tastes like a combination of olive cream cheese and pimento cream cheese. The “martini” reference is the olives. Chocolate Martini is chocolate cheese cake; you need the power of imagination to taste any vodka. Pineapple Margarita is sweet and tangy: pineapple, mango, roasted red pepper and habañero chile. The boxed mixes, because they are hand-blended instead of factory-mixed, taste more cream-cheesy: Cinnamon Pear is sweet, especially with the cinnamon caramel dessert sauce topping; Sweet Coconut & Peppers is given some sweet tang with a pepper jelly topping, and Chipped Beef is topped with an onion horseradish sauce.
While we like the better integration of flavors in the pre-mixed versions, sensitive palates will detect the stabilizers required to make them a shelf-stable product (no refrigeration is required until the jar is opened). We also like the idea of keeping a jar or two in the pantry for instant festivities. And unless you’re awfully good with a spatula, homemade cheese balls never look quite as appealing as factory-made, perfectly shaped ones (although they may taste a lot better).
These sweet flavors do take the place of a sweet cheese dessert...like cheesecake with a cookie crust (or if you prefer, Sweet Coconut & Peppers or Pineapple Margarita for a sweet-and-tangy cheesecake). Mother may prefer to bake a cheesecake, but you don’t need to.
Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.
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