New Year’s Eve parties are made for appetizers. Even New Year’s Day brunches welcome finger food. We don’t know why we love ball-shaped food in this category so much, but we do. It could be the compact, easy-to-manage edibility. The shape makes great hors d’ oeuvres. Plus, there’s something fun and childlike about it. And a new year is a time for renewal anyway.
So don’t just watch the NYC Times Square ball drop during the countdown to 2017. Eat ’em. Let’s get rolling with our favorite ideas for you to have a ball in more ways than one.
1. Eggnog Popcorn Balls
There isn’t actually any eggnog in these popcorn balls, but the flavor of it is there. Popcorn also pairs well with Champagne and other sparkling wines, so this is the ideal snack for New Year’s Eve. If you don’t like this flavor, we have several other flavors of popcorn balls. If so, get our Eggnog Popcorn Balls recipe.
2. Feta-Stuffed Falafel
They look like regular falafel, which is wonderful enough as it is, but then your guests will get a creamy, salty surprise in the middle. Plan ahead if you want to make this dish because you’ll need to soak the dried chickpeas for 24 hours. It makes all the difference compared to using canned chickpeas. Get our Feta-Stuffed Falafel recipe.
3. Boudin Balls
A Cajun classic, Boudin is a mix of pork, rice, and spices that differs widely depending who’s making it. This recipe is flavorful without too much heat, and makes 50 balls — enough for a big good-time crowd. Get our Boudin Balls recipe.
4. Cake Pops
Decorate these sensibly sized nibbles in sparkly silver, gold, black, or whatever your New Year’s décor theme suggests. They’re so festive and just the right size instead of a whole cake. Plus, they’re manageable while you’re standing around holding a drink. Get our Cake Pops recipe.
5. Cinnamon-Oat Truffle Treats
Want to get a head-start on your healthy eating for the new year? These guilt-free “truffle” balls by our feature contributor Missy Chase Lapine will do the trick, enabling you to still enjoy your food. It’s not all about abstinence, you know. Almond butter, no-sugar-added jam, and cinnamon give you the sweet and nutty flavor, but then oats, flaxseed meal, and a white bean base give you fiber, fullness, and even more nutrients. Get Lapine’s Cinnamon-Oat Truffle Treats recipe, plus other healthy treats.
6. The Turducken of Cheese Balls
On the other end of the health spectrum, there’s extreme, heart-stopping indulgence. That would be a 12-layer cheese ball with Spanish chorizo and nuts. Oh yes. We went there. You can too. Get our Turducken of Cheese Balls recipe.
7. Tomato-Basil Arancini
This Italian delight, sometimes called risotto balls, varies in each family, but its base is usually arborio rice, which has a high starch content and is great for risotto. This version is fused with Parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes in the risotto portion, and oozy mozzarella in the middle, which mingles with fresh basil leaves. Get our Tomato-Basil Arancini recipe.
8. Chevré Truffles
Oh. My. Gawd. Goat cheese chocolate truffles are the BEST. We cannot impress upon you enough how ethereal the experience is when you bite into one, first coating your tongue in the cocoa-dusted coating, digging deeper into the rich, creamy goodness within. Just make these. To create truffles like the picture, skip the last part of the recipe that calls for dipping the goat-cheese ganache balls in melted chocolate and sprinkling on course-grain salt. After the truffles have hardened a bit, just roll them in cocoa powder. You could also add a touch of triple-sec in the ganache for a hint of orange flavor. Get our Chevré Truffles recipe.
9. Marinated Bocconcini
Those little 1- or 2inch balls of fresh mozzarella get an infusion of herby essence with fresh thyme and Italian parsley, plus a salty zing from capers. They’re great with cured meats, marinated artichokes, peppers, tomatoes, and crusty bread. Get our Marinated Bocconcini recipe.
10. Lamb Meatballs with Lemon-Cumin Yogurt
Sure, there are traditional potluck meatball recipes and Swedish meatball recipes, but this one is less typical. Fresh mint, cilantro, cumin and cinnamon make this a refreshing Mediterranean alternative to the usual. Get our Lamb Meatballs with Lemon-Cumin Yogurt recipe.
11. Stuffing Spinach Balls
This is a classic appetizer recipe that never gets old. It’s not super sophisticated, but it’s easy, and everyone, we mean everyone, loves it. If you want to make them ahead of time, you can freeze the balls on a baking sheet, then put them in a Ziplock freezer bag and keep them there. When it’s show time, just bake them according to the directions. Or bake them ahead of time, freeze them, and then reheat. Get the recipe.
And last, but by all means not least, are traditional Brazilian fudge balls. Like the Chef’s beloved “chocolate balls” on Comedy Central’s “South Park” show, these are loved internationally. They’re simple, festive, and adjustable to your fancy. Get the recipe.
— Head Photos: Olivia’s Cuisine.