Old-Fashioned Dainty Cheese (Cheese Ball) Recipe

Cheese ball surrounded by crackers on a plateBased on a quick scan, many cooking blogs currently have Super Bowl posts – The Best Super Bowl Food Ideas, Easy Super Bowl Recipes, Super Bowl Crowd Pleasing Snacks, and so on.

So I asked myself, “A hundred years ago what would people have eaten during the Super Bowl?” And, I immediately realized that it was a stupid question – the first Super Bowl wasn’t held until 1967.

So I revised my question, “Are there hundred-year-old recipes that might make a crowd pleasing snack for Super Bowl LIV?”

Success. . . I think I found a winner. A 1920 cookbook, Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries, has a wonderful recipe for Dainty Cheese – which is actually a cheese ball. I have no idea why it was called Dainty Cheese; but, regardless, the cheese ball is delicious, and would be a perfect Super Bowl snack.

The Dainty Cheese cheese ball is made with cream cheese embedded with finely chopped stuffed olives and hard-boiled egg, and a bit of onion. Since the old recipe does not call for cheddar cheese, it’s less “cheesy” than many modern recipes. (hmm . . . Maybe that’s why it is called Dainty Cheese.”) It also isn’t coated with nuts, bacon, or pepperoni like many modern balls.

But, once I set aside my modern expectations, the Dainty Cheese cheese ball was delightful. It is slightly salty with a mild onion and olive taste that works perfectly when spread on crackers.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Dainty Cheese
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries (1920)

I couldn’t find onion juice at the store (Is it still made?), so I substituted 1 teaspoon grated onion for the 1/3 teaspoon onion juice. When I made the cheese ball, instead of following the old directions and packing the mixture into a mold (which I worried that I’d have difficulty unmolding), I shaped the cheese ball  on a piece of plastic wrap. then wrapped it in the plastic wrap and chilled until firm.

Here is the modern recipe updated for modern cooks:

Dainty Cheese (Cheese Ball)

  • Servings: 1 medium-sized cheese ball
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/3 teaspoon salt

dash cayenne (red) pepper

15 stuffed olives, finely chopped

1 hard-bowled egg, finely chopped

1 teaspoon onion, grated

Put cream cheese in a mixing bowl, beat until smooth. Add butter, salt, and cayenne pepper; beat until combined. Add olives, egg, and onion; stir until combined.  Shape into a cheese ball on a piece of plastic wrap, then wrap in the plastic wrap. Chill (at least two hours), then unwrap, put on plate, and serve with crackers.


54 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Dainty Cheese (Cheese Ball) Recipe

  1. Yes, that’s an old-fashioned food. I remember them from my youth, but not really a fan of them. I can see why you picked it for your “Super Bowl” post.

  2. This one reminded me of a 1960s Iowa staple: cream cheese balls about the size of a big marble rolled in finely chopped chipped beef, or crushed pecans. I think this might be better!

    1. I’ve been surprised how much I am enjoying the cheese ball. When I want to eat a snack, I eat 2 or 3 crackers with a little of the cheese spread on each one – and I find that I am really looking forward to those treats.

      1. I bet this is more hunger quenching because of the added proteIn from the egg.

        Also the magazine’s nutritionist surely had input into their non-dessert recipes such as this one in the cookbook

        Dainty would have been “marketing” term to ID the recipe as for women and their social gatherings such as women’s clubs, Order of the Eastern Star, DAR, etc.

        1. I hadn’t thought about it until you mentioned it, but the egg would make the cheese ball more nutritious. It’s fascinating how the word “dainty” IDs recipes from this era as food for women. Dainty always suggests to me that the women who ate these foods were svelte and elegent – or at least aspired to be.

    1. Yes, I can picture what you are describing. There are recipes in old cookbooks for a variety of similar spreads for fancy sandwiches which I think were typically made by trimming the crust from the bread and cutting the sandwiches into triangles.

  3. It sounds good, but the hard boiled eggs seem unusual. I do have to say that in my PA Dutch upbringing, we put hard boiled eggs in everything we could. I recently had meatloaf and soup with hard eggs in them.

    1. I also wondered about the hard boiled egg. It seemed like an unusual ingredient to put in a cheese ball. That said, I can’t specifically identify the taste or texture of the egg when eating the cheese ball. I chopped the egg very fine (I almost mashed it). I tend to think that the hard-boiled egg could be skipped when making the cheese ball with little effect on the finished product.

    1. I like the word dainty, too. A hundred years ago it was a popular word used to describe trendy foods. Historically, I think that many people ate heavy meals (which they probably needed to do the heavy labor required back then). As cars, electricity, and other more modern technology begin to come on the scene, people started to worry about the heavy foods they were eating, and there was more of a focus on “dainty” foods. I think that there may have also been a gender distinction, with women preferring dainty foods.

    1. 🙂 I was putting some comments on blogs yesterday – and saw your post. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I made this recipe, but I was pleased with how it turned out.

  4. This sounds and looks like something I would really like to make. But could you define cream cheese for me? We have something that could translate to cream cheese, but it’s not liquid at all, though softer than most cheese. Stuffed olives I suppose are those with strips of pimento in them.

    1. Cream cheese is a soft, mild-flavored cheese. In the U.S., it is often spread on bagels, and is used to make cheese cake. Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry on cream cheese. I think that you’ll like the cheese ball. I hope that you are able to find the right kind of cheese to make it.

    1. I wasn’t quite sure what to use as a substitute for onion juice, so I went with grated onion, but I think that onion powder would work just fine.

    1. It’s yummy. I also was surprised to see the hard-boiled egg listed in the recipe – but it worked fine. I chopped it very fine (almost mashed it), and actually could barely taste it.

  5. I personally love cream cheese with pimiento-stuffed olives. This sounds interesting. I remember when suddenly everyone was making cheese balls. I guess I thought they were a new thing at the time.

    1. I also am rediscovering how much I like cream cheese with pimiento-stuffed olives. I was surprised that cheese balls have been around for at least a hundred years.

  6. I wonder if it was considered “dainty” because it would be so different than a hard block of cheddar, etc., and could be served for ladies’ functions like a shower or tea?

  7. Sheryl, Cheeseballs sure bring me back a few decades. Although, I think they would taste just as great today. The hard cooked egg is something I never used. All sounds tasty!

    1. This recipe also took me back several decades. I’m not sure why cheese balls went out of style. The inclusion of the hard-boiled egg in the old recipe also surprised me. I chopped the egg very fine (I almost mashed it). I was surprised to discover that I could barely taste the egg, and that it had little effect on the texture. I actually think that this recipe could be made without the egg, and that the cheese ball would taste about the same.

    1. Wow, I’m amazed. This is good to know. I’ll have to go over to Amazon and look for it. I see hundred-year-old recipes call for onion juice from time to time.

  8. My husband and I sometimes make a cream cheese and olive spread to have on crackers. It is usually on a weekend night after we have had a large lunch and just want a snack in the evening. Perhaps the egg was added for protein or maybe just to firm up the cheese ball. I’ll definitely have to give it a try.

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