I am often stumped when it comes to appetizers. I spend so much time working on my main dish, (okay, maybe I put a bit of effort into the dessert part too) that I overlook how important an appetizer can be. I learned a few things during my time waiting tables – people will wait for food if they have a drink in their hand and something delicious to nibble on. I keep that in mind now that I am entertaining in my own home. I do not make a lot of appetizers, but a cheese tray or a small appetizer can make all the difference in the mood of my guests when I am running behind in the kitchen.
I have been wanting to make an almond pinecone for ages, and Blue Diamond asked me if I would be interested in making one to share with you. I had to laugh because it was on my list of “things to make” this holiday season. This is the perfect appetizer for a holiday party. You can make the cream cheese part a day or two ahead of time, and add the almonds and rosemary before your guests arrive. I think that this would be a perfect job for little hands that need to be entertained while mommy is finishing getting ready. You could also make this into two small pine cones and save one for later.
I had my pinecone in the fridge and my children saw it when getting an afternoon snack. They told me that they really like the pineapple in the fridge. My husband came home and opened the fridge and told me that the pineapple looked great and wondered if it was fair game (that is food blogger family speak for food that has already been photographed and is available for eating). Whether you are using the symbol of hospitality or a festive holiday pine cone, this appetizer is always good party food.
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 Tablespoons port wine
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 cups Blue Diamond® Whole Natural Almonds, toasted
Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add port and cayenne.
Beat until smooth. Add cheese.
Add green onion. Mix until combined.
Wrap cream cheese mixture in plastic wrap or parchment and chill for at least one hour. You could do this the day before even.
Once chilled, mold the cream cheese into a pinecone shape.
Place the cheese on a serving plate and start to add almonds. Start at the bottom and add in rows overlapping until the cheese is covered.
Add rosemary sprigs.
Serve with a nice glass of wine and crackers. Disclosure: I am being paid by Blue Diamond Almonds for this post. I am compensated for my time, however all opinions expressed are my own.