How festive is this! Imagine the oooo’s and ahhhh’s you’ll get walking in with this appetizer to your next Christmas party. And that’s not the best part! It’s delicious, too! That is, if you can get anyone to cut into it. It’s too pretty to eat!
You can use your favorite pesto or even use homemade pesto. I just used the amount of the ingredients as a guide. I think I added a bit more pesto than the 4 tablespoons it asks for to 3 packages of cream cheese, but you can adjust the amount to your personal liking. This recipe makes 2 trees, so if you want just one, just cut the recipe in half, or even thirds. But go ahead and make 2–you’ll be ready for that last minute holiday party!
After mixing all the ingredients, I wrapped the balls in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator to chill before shaping. Here is what the “tree” looked like before decorating.
I found that shaping “boughs” was easier than making a perfectly smooth tree. Have fun with it!
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- 3 cups shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (16 ounces)
- 4 Tablespoons basil pesto
- ½ C. chopped parsley or cilantro
- ¼ C. pine nuts or sliced almonds
- Pieces of red bell pepper or tomato for ornaments
- Rind of a lemon for the star, optional
- Stir together cream cheese , shredded cheese and pesto. Divide in half and cover each half with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm enough to shape.
- Place cheese mixtures on cookie sheet. Shape each half into cone shape to look like a pine tree. If desired, wrap each tree, label and freeze up to 1 month. Twelve hours before serving, remove trees from freezer. Thaw in wrapper in refrigerator.
- Just before serving, roll trees in chopped parsley, pressing it evenly onto trees. Press pine nuts or almonds onto trees in string form for garland.
- With kitchen shears, cut bell pepper pieces into round "ornaments" and press onto trees.
- Top each tree with star shape cut from lemon peel. Serve with crackers.
Et cetera: I adapted this recipe from BettyCrocker.com. Their recipe has 2 different flavors–one for each of the balls this recipe makes. I liked the simplicity of making just one flavor, but you may want to try theirs.