This is an old Southern Living recipe that I have been wanting to make for years. I altered some of the ingredients a little, but constructed it just like the directions.
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup wine (the recipe called for white, all I had was red)
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2- 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
Coatings: fresh parsley, finely chopped pecans
1 (12") Styrofoam cone
2 tubs soft cream cheese
1 (10 oz) package Wheat Thins
1 large jar jumbo pimiento-stuffed olives
1 red bell pepper
Saute onion and bell pepper in butter until tender. Add wine and simmer, uncovered, until liquid has evaporated. Set aside. (If you don't want to do this step, you can just add the raw onion and bell pepper).
In a food processor, combine cheeses and onion mixture. Process until smooth and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Shape mixture into 3/4 inch balls. Make sure to keep them small. Roll half in chopped pecans and half in the fresh parsley. (I chopped the parsley as well as the pecans in the food processor). Place on a wax paper-lined pan and chill for about 2 hours. (I put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes).
Wrap the cone with plastic wrap, covering all surfaces. Spread softened tub cream cheese over the plastic wrap, making about a 1/2" layer. Sprinkle the parsley over the cream cheese.
Press a row of the crackers into the cream cheese-coated cone at the base. Attach a row of cheese balls just above the crackers with wooden picks, alternating the parsley-covered balls with the pecan-covered ones. Attach a row of olives above the cheese balls, using the wooden picks. Press another row of crackers above the olives, creating a shingled effect. Repeat these steps until the cone is covered completely.
Using a sharp knife, cut the red bell pepper into a star shape. I actually cut two, and placed them back to back, and attached them with the wooden picks.
Serve the remaining cheese balls on crackers at the base of the tree.
Wrap the cone with plastic wrap, making sure to cover all surfaces. (This cone is actually made of oasis, and that's only because that is what I had on hand).
Spread the tub cream cheese over the plastic wrap:
Then sprinkle with the chopped parsley:
Begin attaching the crackers at the base:
Using the wooden toothpicks, attach the cheese balls. I found it easier to place the toothpick into the cone first, then the cheese ball onto the toothpick:
I chose to alternate the first row with small olives:
This is the almost finished product:
I had to transport mine to my sister-in-law's, so I held it in my lap. I didn't want a Christmas Eve disaster on my hands.
Place the extra cheese balls on crackers at the base of the tree:
This project requires a good bit of time and effort, but has a really wonderful presentation. It is also quite delicious.