23 July 2012

Olive Balls -- Treats for My Husband

My husband loves green olives.  The quality of a pizza place is partially based on whether they have green olives as a topping.  An extra large jar of green olives lasts two weeks at most around him.  His favorite snack is a concoction of his own -- olive dip.  It's a combination of green olives, cream cheese, milk, and onion powder.  I know it may not sound super appetizing to everyone, but it is delicious if you love green olives like he does.  

Because my husband loves green olives so much, I am always on the lookout for new treats for him that showcase green olives.  I came across recipes for Olive Balls in quite a few southern cookbooks.  I had never had them before.  The recipes I have seen are basically a mutation of sausage balls.  Just leave out the sausage and wrap the dough around a green olive and you get Olive Balls.  I had to tinker with the dough a bit to give it a little more kick and make it a little more moist.  The problem with sausage balls for me is that they are usually too dry.  I took care of that problem by adding some cream cheese to the dough.  (Thanks to my husband's olive dip for giving me the idea.)  Because of the cream cheese, my dough turns into a cheesy, savory pie crust wrapped around an olive rather than crumbly like most sausage balls.  I know my southern ancestors didn't use smoked paprika or chipotle pepper.  They are probably rolling over in their graves, but the paprika and chipotle really add some nice smoky flavor to the dough.  It's a nice counterpoint to the super-briny olives.

Olive Balls
makes 30 balls

Print me, Please!!!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
30 pimiento-stuffed green olives, well drained

Preheat the oven to 350°.  

Using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers combine the butter, cheeses, flour, Worcestershire, cayenne, paprika, and mustard.  Knead the ingredients until they form a smooth dough.  Pinch off a small piece of dough (about 1 tablespoon) and flatten it until it is large enough to wrap around an olive.  I found the easiest way to do this was by placing the dough in the palm of one hand and flattening the dough with the heel of my other hand.  Repeat with the remaining dough and olives.  

Place the olive balls 1" apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.  Let cool to lukewarm before serving.  

You can also freeze the uncooked olive balls.  Just toss them in an airtight container.  They will keep in the freezer for about a month.

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