One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1-1/4 cups finely grated gruyere
1/4 cup caramelized onions (see below)
1/8 cup almond meal from slivered almonds (see below)
salt and white pepper to taste
Sliced almonds for quills/spines
3 small capers for eyes and nose
Prepare caramelized onions and let cool. Prepare almond meal.
Place cream cheese, gruyere, caramelized onions, almond meal and a pinch of salt and white pepper in a food processor and combine until you have a fairly smooth mixture. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. If it tastes a little salty, it's okay, it will mellow as it sits.
Place mixture on a piece of wax or parchment paper, form into a rough teardrop shape. Place in refrigerator and allow to firm up for about an hour. Place the cheese ball onto the serving dish, and finish shaping by pinching and forming a little nose. Place the capers for the eyes and nose. Then, use the sliced almonds, point sides up, to form the quills/spines of the hedghog. Serve with crackers or crudities for scooping.
Almond meal: For 1/8 cup, use about 1/4 to 1/3 cup slivered almonds (no skin), toast in a small skillet, allow to cool, then pulverize using either a spice grinder or small food processor.
Caramelized onions (oven method): Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Using a medium sized onion, slice in 1/4 inch slices. Place about 1 Tbsp of butter into a small ovenproof skillet, add the onion slices, a good sized pinch of sugar, pinches of salt and pepper, then cover tightly with foil or a pan lid. You could also add a few sprigs of fresh thyme or use a teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary if you want. Place in oven and back for 20 minutes. Remove foil, stir, and place back in oven uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir onions and repeat, reducing time to 15 minutes, until onions are golden brown and caramelized. Allow to cool before using. I usually make a lot more at one time and use the remainder for other things like soups, sandwiches, etc.