Cheese lovers welcome, we have such sights to show you. This Pinhead Cheeseball is the perfect centerpiece for all your festive gatherings. Creamy, cheesy, terrifying! What else could you want adorning your perfectly laid table? Even Uncle Frank would approve.
It was the Autumn of 1987 and the UK’s answer to Stephen King, Clive Barker, was about to rock the silver screen with his directorial debut, Hellraiser(1987). Adapted from his novella, The Hellbound Heart(1986) Hellraiser is a story of lust, greed, power and pleasure. Doesn’t that just scream Winter Holiday Season to you? Or is that just me? I mean, familiar tension, drunk uncles acting inappropriately, interdenominational beings bringing unbridled pleasure (and pain). It’s practically a Christmas movie in disguise.
A riff on the legend of Pandora’s Box, Hellraiser (1987) tells the story of a hedonist named Frank (Sean Chapman) who finds himself in possession of a puzzle box. Upon ‘solving’ the box Frank is ripped apart by chains and killed. Frank is later resurrected in his brother Larry’s (Andrew Robinson) attic and chaos ensues. The stand-out star of the show is a Cenobite nicknamed Pinhead (Doug Bradley), on which this cheeseball is based. His pale face pocked with pins lends itself perfectly to the medium of food. I mean, who wouldn’t want a Hell Priest to snack on while they’re counting in the New Year. Deliciousness has a face, allow me to show it to you.
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Here’s what you’re going to need:
Plastic Mask: I got mine in a pack of 5 from Amazon. You can pick them up in art supply stores too.
Toothpicks: Just the wooden kind. If you want to go all out you can paint them silver with food safe paint.
Cream Cheese: You can use any brand but stay away from low fat versions as they contain more water than full fat and may affect how the ball sets.
Garlic and Onion Powder: Always handy to have around, they add a lot of flavour.
Worcestershire Sauce: Delicious and savoury, you can sub in soy sauce if you want to go for a vegan version.
White Cheddar: You can use any hard cheese you like, but white cheddar keeps the face pinhead pale.
Parmesan Cheese: Use a vegetarian alternative if preferred.
Seedless Strawberry Jam: For piping the bloody lines.
Food Grade Charcoal Powder: You can buy this online or in specialist food stores. I got 25g from Amazon for £2.60 so you don’t need to spend a lot of money on this. Leftovers can be kept for upcoming NOFS foodie projects!
Accompaniments: Crackers, blackberries, figs, chilli jam. Anything you like to have with cheese.
Measurements: I cannot recommend using actual scales rather than cups. You’ll get much more consistent results in your recipes, you’ll never look back. A set of digital scales are easy to store and relatively cheap, they’re so worth the small investment. I’ll always include cup measurements but be aware they’re not as accurate and results can vary slightly.
Freezing: You can actually make this cheeseball in advance and freeze it for up to a month. Simply follow the recipe up until step then wrap the whole mask in a double layer of clingfilm and pop in the freezer. Defrost in the fridge overnight. Be aware that freezing cream cheese does affect the texture slightly, it will be a little grainier but still delicious.
Vegan/Lactose-Free: Can you make this cheeseball vegan or lactose-free? Yes, very easily! Simply swap out the dairy cream and hard cheeses for vegan or lactose-free alternatives. Don’t forget to omit the Worcestershire Sauce.
Customization: You can use any kind of hard cheese you like in this recipe. I used white cheddar to keep the colour of the face a nice bright white, but feel free to use any cheese you have to hand. You could even try the Uncle Frank variation below you you like it a bit spicier.
Uncle Frank Variation
Is Pinhead a bit too bland for you? Fancy something spicier? Don’t worry, I’ve got you. With just a few simple tweaks you can take this cheeseball from Pinhead to Frank.
Replace the white cheddar with shredded Pepperjack cheese or Mexicana. Anything with a little heat.
Mix 1/2 cup of chopped, pickled jalapenos into the cheese mixture before packing into the mask.
Once the cheeseball has set and you’ve removed it from the mask, lay slices of prosciutto over the surface to create a flayed man effect. Place two stuffed olives over the eyes and there you have it. A gruesome Uncle Frank!
1kg (4 blocks) Cream Cheese
2tsp garlic powder
2tsp onion powder
3tsp Worcestershire sauce
200g (1 1/2 cup) shredded white cheddar
150g (1 cup) shredded parmesan
3tbsp seedless strawberry jam
Lay a large sheet of cling film over the inside of a plastic mask, place the mask in a shallow bowl or plate to keep it steady, set aside.
Place the cream cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, white cheddar and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl and mix together until fully incorporated.
Spoon the cheese filling into the mask, making sure to pack it in there. Smooth the filling down and lay the excess cling film over the cheese. Place the mask in the fridge overnight to set.
Once set find a serving plate and remove the cling film from the back of the mask. Invert the mask over the serving plate and remove the mask and cling film. Carefully smooth out the surface of the cheese face with the back of a spoon or a palate knife then score a grid pattern into the face using a clean toothpick.
Using a soft paint brush carefully dab the powdered charcoal onto the eyes and lips until it looks like the black eyes of a cenobite.
Add the seedless jam into a piping bag and warm it up in your hands a little bit. This makes it easier to pipe. Following your scored pattern pipe thin lines of jam along the face. Place a toothpick in the corners of each square.
Taste our pleasures and be sure to show your hellish creations to us on social media (before you tear this snack’s soul apart, please). Share your photos with us over on Twitter or in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord!