Miniature Blue Cheese Balls with Winter Fruit
- 30 dried apricots
- 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, cut in chunks
- 3/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
- 1 Tbsp. French brandy (or sherry extract, to taste)
- 1/2 Tbsp. yellow onion, minced
Place apricots in a sauce pan. Add water to cover. Stir in vanilla. Bring the apricots to a boil, uncovered, and simmer until tender, 1 to 4 minutes, depending on dryness of apricots. Test with a fork. The apricots should be tender but not limp. Drain and dry well. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet. Toast pecans for 4 to 5 minutes, until aromatic. Stir after 2 minutes and watch so the nuts do not scorch. Remove and pour pecans on waxed paper to cool. Whirl pecans in a blender until very fine. Set aside.
Place the cream cheese (allow to come to room temperature), blue cheese and brandy in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are well blended. Add the onion and pulse briefly to incorporate. Remove mixture to a bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Remove cheese mixture from refrigerator. Form miniature balls and dip tops in pecans. Place on an apricot, nut side up. Repeat until all mixture is used. The mixture will be soft; if it is too soft, spoon onto apricots, rounding the top and sprinkle with apricots.
This mixture is a terrific filling for stewed dried plums (prunes) and Majool dates. Make a party plate with winter fruits and apricots or with dried plums and dates.