This is one of my favorite appetizer/maza dishes. Guests delight in its exotic yet familiar taste. To make it even prettier, when I have chives in blossom, I sprinkle some of their lavender flowers over the top along with the chives.–Victoria Jenanyan Wise
Armenian Yogurt Cheese Balls
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 8 H, 30 M
- Serves 6 to 8
- For the yogurt cheese
- 1 1/2 quarts yogurt
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- For the marinated cheese balls
- 2 cups yogurt cheese (above)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 2 teaspoons chopped dill leaves
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- Crackers, for serving
- Make the yogurt cheese
- 1. Drain the yogurt by lining a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth, making sure to have a generous drape over the sides. Set the colander in a bowl that holds its bottom well above the bottom of the bowl. Place the yogurt in the colander and set aside at room temperature to drain until reduced to 4 cups, 2 to 4 hours, depending on the consistency of the yogurt to begin with. Use right away, or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- 2. Stir the salt into the drained yogurt in the colander. Cover and refrigerate to continue draining. Leave for 12 hours (overnight) to achieve a cream cheese texture. Leave for 24 hours to achieve a firmer, chevre-like texture. Be sure to pour off the whey accumulated in the bowl whenever it reaches up to the bottom of the colander.
- Make the marinate cheese balls
- 3. Divide the cheese into 13 portions and roll each into a walnut-size ball. Set the balls, without touching, on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover loosely with paper towels and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, until firm.
- 4. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, dill, and Aleppo pepper. Transfer the balls to a deep dish or a high-lipped platter, all in one layer. Pour the oil mixture over the balls, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to 1 week.
- 5. To serve, sprinkle the chives over the top and accompany with crackers.