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California Swiss and Cream Cheese Ball



– 1 cup (8 ounces) Real California Cream Cheese – 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, OR 2 teaspoons dried thyme – 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper – 1/4 teaspoon salt – 2 tablespoons gin OR vodka – 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) grated Real California Swiss cheese – 2/3 cup chopped smoked ham (or other ham variety) – 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
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1. In a large bowl, or in a food processor, combine the Cream Cheese, 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme), the pepper, salt and gin. Beat or process until blended and smooth. Add the cheese and the ham and beat vigorously until evenly mixed. If you are using a food processor, take care not to overmix; the ham and Swiss should retain some texture. This is a soft mixture and will be easier to form if it is refrigerated for 2-3 hours at this point.

2. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme) with the chives and spread on a large plate or sheet of waxed paper. Dampen your hands with water to keep the cheese mixture from sticking to them, then divide the mixture in half. Pat and press each half into a ball about 3 inches across; don't worry about keeping the shape perfect. Roll each ball in the thyme and chive mixture, pressing so the coating adheres. Wrap separately in plastic wrap and chill until serving.