This is the cheese ball that changed everything at our house. Haha, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s now the only cheese ball that is allowed to be made (and eaten) here and it’s been a couple years now. All other cheese balls pale in comparison and according to Kevin just do not have enough flavor. Does anyone else find it interesting that his favorite dessert is cheesecake, but he actually really doesn’t like cream cheese in any other form—except this loaded cheese ball. It is loaded with his favorites, like BACON and jalapeno. I think he’d even be happy if I’d make it even spicier, but then it would be too spicy for the boys.
I first saw a version of this cheese ball at Tracey's Culinary Adventures back in 2012. Tracey’s blog is awesome and full of great recipes and photos. She hasn’t been blogging much the last year or so (with good reason, she has the cutest little one year old girl keeping her busy), but you can still get recipes on her blog. Check it out! In my opinion, her recipe is spot on. In Kevin’s opinion, he made me kick it up with a little more heat and I must say, it’s still not too spicy to eat if you don’t like things too hot.
The first photo is from one I made for a big Smith family dinner last Christmas. I made two of them and they were gone in a flash. Over this past weekend, I took the boys to a pumpkin patch and the farm has a big farmers’ market store that I didn’t know existed, including grass fed beef. I’ll be back there, especially since their sign said they are open year round. While waiting in line to pay for our pumpkins , we were standing next to some corn on the cob and other fresh veggies. The boys found some cool looking jalapenos, so we bought some. Check out the fun shapes.
We loved the one in the middle that looks like a half moon with a face. After bringing these home from the market/pumpkin patch, it was decided by everyone that I HAD to make this cheese ball. I almost couldn’t whip it up fast enough for everyone to dig in. Kevin even had to run to the store for crackers—everyone’s favorite are Wheat Thins and we were out. Quickly made the bacon while the cream cheese came more to room temperature. Chopped up some jalapenos and pecans and got everything else out and ready. I’ve always made this in a bowl, stirring by hand, in the past, but this time decided to do it in the food processor. We liked how much more everything incorporated into the cream cheese, but left plenty of the jalapenos, bacon and pecans for the outside. We love that the whole cheese ball is covered in the good stuff. You’re the lucky one if you get to be the one who eats the few remaining pieces of bacon and jalapeno that didn’t make it onto the cheese ball. That was Parker this time.
Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!
1-8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
6-8 slices bacon (you can’t go wrong with too much bacon), I use uncured bacon with no preservatives
1/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (to taste)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon onion powder (to taste)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (to taste)
1/8-1/4 ground cayenne pepper (to taste)
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
juice of half a lime
a couple shakes of hot sauce (Tabasco), optional
2 jalapenos (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped and divided
Crackers of your choice
Cook the bacon in a large skillet or a glass plate in the microwave (I used the plate and it took two batches). Ideally, I cook bacon in the oven (375 degrees F) on a roasting rack so the grease drips down into the pan. Takes about 20-30 minutes. Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. I prefer toasting nuts in the oven (350 degrees F, 5-7 minutes), or you can put them on a plate in a single layer and use the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring half way through.
Put the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, Worchestershire, lime juice, half the bacon and jalapeno and the optional hot sauce in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, scrape sides of bowl and pulse a few more times until all combined. Using a spatula, scrape the mixture into a ball on a plate that has the remaining bacon, jalapenos and the chopped pecans on it (mixed evenly). Roll the cheese ball in the mixture until it is evenly coated on all sides. While doing this, form it into a ball with your hands. You hands will get a little messy, but it’s all for a good cause! You can wet your hands slightly if you’d like, but I don’t usually need to do so. Refrigerate for an hour to firm up the ball, or serve immediately if people don’t want to wait anymore!
Everyone else likes Wheat Thins with this cheese ball, but since I eat gluten free my favorite are these yummy chips I get at Costco called Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips. Love these—they are perfect for chips and salsa, nachos, this cheese ball, etc., and I like that they are pretty sturdy and will hold up to thicker things. You’ll never made a plain ol’ cheese ball with just scallions in it again. (Ew.)