If you were otherwise unaware, we’re big fans of cheeseballs here at Skillet. They’re delicious, impressive, shareable, and just the right kind of crazy. I understand if you’ve only rolled up savory cheeseballs up until now, but whipping up a dessert cheeseball is the snack you need for upcoming festive gatherings. I’ll tell you right now, there’s a cannoli cheeseball recipe at the end of this, and it is resplendent.
Although I think the cannoli flavors of ricotta cheese, cinnamon, mini chocolate chips, and pistachios make for a flawless dessert (especially served with these cannoli crackers), you can make a dessert cheeseball with any sweet flavor combinations you like. Part of the beauty of cheeseballs is the versatility and ease of making them. They make a great party snack contribution with usually five to seven ingredients that you can bend to fit your budget. Use simple ingredients, or cheaper brands to make it more affordable, or go wild with artisanal chocolate and gold leaf if you want to. Try a peanut butter cheeseball covered in chocolate chips or Reese’s Pieces. Maybe the Nutella variety rolled in crushed hazelnuts is more your speed, or make it fruity and use your favorite jam for flavor.
Once you’ve decided on your cheeseball recipe, mix up the ingredients. I usually start with room temperature ingredients because they incorporate easier, but most recipes don’t specify, so it’s really up to how much elbow grease you want to put in. The benefit of working with cold ingredients is that the fats stay firm, so you can usually shape it into a ball right away and roll it in the outer garnish posthaste. If you decide to use room temperature ingredients and your mixture seems a little loose, mound it into the center of a sheet of plastic wrap, gather the corners and shape it into a ball with the help of the wrap. Cool it in the fridge for a couple hours until it’s firm, and then unwrap it to cover in the garnishing ingredients. I used a spoon to help press the pistachios and chocolate chips up onto the sides, and this helped me a great deal with shaping.
This cannoli cheeseball includes ricotta cheese which makes the mixture delightfully soft and spreadable, but it can add excess water. Before you add the ricotta, scoop it onto a couple pieces of paper towels and press it “dry.” After mixing all of the cheeseball ingredients, let it firm up in the fridge for a couple hours before you roll it in the chocolate chips and pistachios. Serve with cannoli crackers, plain tea biscuits, Nilla wafers, or any sturdy cookies.
- ¼ cup ricotta (drained with paper towels)
- ½ brick cream cheese (4 ounces)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Zest of ½ an orange
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon pistachios, chopped (optional extra for garnish)
- Mini chocolate chips to garnish (about a ⅓ cup)
Mix drained ricotta, cream cheese, and sugar together until smooth. Stir in the melted butter quickly, so it doesn’t get chunky. Mix in the orange zest, cinnamon, and one tablespoon of chopped pistachios.
Pour the chocolate chips and extra pistachios into a bowl wide enough to hold the cheeseball. Shape the mixture into a ball and roll it in the garnish, using a spoon to help press chips on the sides. If the mixture feels too loose, let the mixture firm up in the fridge first, or place the mixture into a piece of plastic wrap and gather the corners to help shape it into a ball. Let this chill in the fridge to set up for a couple hours. Take off the wrap and roll it in the chocolate pistachio mixture. Serve with cannoli crackers, cookies, biscuits, or just eat it by the spoonful (tested and approved).