12 slices smoky bacon
1 8-ounce brick cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup cubed sharp white cheddar cheese (Irish or American) plus 1 1/2 cups shredded
1 shallot, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup good quality Irish whisky, such as Jamesons
2 to 3 dashes bitters, such as Angostura
About 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup smoked almonds, chopped or coarsely processed
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
A handful parsley, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Arrange bacon on a slotted pan or wire rack-lined baking sheet and bake to crisp. Cool to room temperature then finely chop.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine softened cream cheese, cubed Cheddar, shallot and garlic, and process until fairly smooth. Transfer mixture into mixing bowl.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in shredded cheese, whisky, bitters, Worcestershire, mustard, salt, pepper and about two-thirds of the bacon bits. Reserve the rest of the bacon for topping.
Lay a good amount of plastic wrap on a flat surface and transfer cheese mixture to the plastic. Twist up the four corners of the plastic and tighten to form a ball shape. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
In a shallow dish, combine chopped smoked almonds, reserved bacon bits and fresh chives and parsley. Roll the cheese ball in the mixture until the ball is completely and evenly coated.
Serve with your favorite crackers, pretzel rods or veggie planks such as carrots, parsnips, red peppers and/or celery.