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Is there anything so retro as serving cheese balls at a party? But whether passe or hip, cheese balls are among the quickest and most effortless hors d'oeuvres you can throw together for a last-minute get-together or as a snack. Make them bite-sized or shape into one or two large balls for a cheese platter (flattened into a disk shape so it doesn't roll around).
Nearly any cheese will work in this recipe; soft cheese will just blend into the cream cheese, and harder ones must be grated. Also, change the texture and look of the cheese balls by rolling them in anything from chopped fresh herbs to toasted bread crumbs, chopped nuts or seeds, crushed chips or crackers, or even chopped dried fruit.
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 10 minutes

• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 8 ounces goat cheese, blue cheese, or finely grated sharp cheddar
• 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley and chives

Put the cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until combined. Stir in the cheese.

2. Form into small balls, about an inch in diameter, or shape into 1 or 2 large balls. Roll the balls in the chopped herbs; flatten the large balls into a disk shape (it's easier to cut into). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate to set up firmly if you like. Serve the small balls with toothpicks and the large ones on a platter with crackers or bread.

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