Bacon-Jalapeño Cheese Ball

I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years, and though I’ve said it a million times before, I think it bears repeating that one of my favorite parts of the experience has been the wonderful people I’ve been lucky enough to meet. One of my first blogging buddies was Jessica of My Baking Heart. We both joined the Tuesdays with Dorie group back in April of 2008, and continued baking together every week for the next three and a half years! Jessica always stopped by and left kind comments and words of encouragement for me, she’s a real sweetheart and I’m happy to call her a friend :)

Bacon-Jalapeño Cheese Ball

Later this month Jessica is getting married, and today we’re celebrating with a virtual bridal shower organized by Nikki of Pennies on a Platter. Congratulations Jessica, can’t wait to hear all about your big day and see the pics!

JR Invite Final

I volunteered to make an appetizer for the shower as soon as I received the invite, but it took me forever to actually decide on a recipe. Jessica is a Texas girl so I wound up turning to one of my go-to resources on Texas food, Homesick Texan, for ideas and that’s where I discovered this bacon-jalapeño cheese ball. I’m not sure I’ve ever even had a cheese ball, but this recipe immediately called to me. Cream cheese is mixed with cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapeños and flavored with herbs and spices, then shaped into a ball, which is rolled in more bacon, more jalapeños and toasted pecans. It’s colorful and fun, and perfect for a party since it can easily be made ahead of time. The jalapeños give it a little kick, but nothing too crazy – I’m a total wimp about spicy food and I loved it. Though it’s probably not typical bridal shower food, I predict it would be a definite crowd-pleaser!

Bacon-Jalapeño Cheese Ball

Nikki and Jessica are both posting a round-up of all the wonderful dishes shared for the virtual bridal shower, so be sure to stop by their sites and check them out!

Bacon-Jalapeño Cheese Ball
barely adapted from Homesick Texan

6 slices bacon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 jalapeños (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped and divided
crackers (for serving)

Cook the bacon in a large skillet set over medium heat until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Allow to cool slightly, then crumble and divide in half.

While the bacon is cooking, preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant.

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, parsley, garlic, cumin, cayenne, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, half of the minced jalapeños, and half of the crumbled bacon until well combined. Season the mixture to taste with salt.

On a large plate, stir the toasted pecans, remaining minced jalapeños and remaining half of the crumbled bacon together until evenly distributed. Shape the cream cheese mixture into a ball (the mixture will be sticky, I found it easiest to shape if I just barely wet my hands first). Roll the ball in the pecan mixture until coated on all sides.

Cover the ball and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.