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Pimento Cheese & Bacon Mini Cheese Ball Bites


Yield: 2 to 3 dozen mini cheese balls (depending on how big you make them)

Mini cheese balls of homemade pimento cheese are rolled in a coating of crispy bacon, toasted pecans, and minced fresh jalapeños and then speared with a pretzel stick for fun, easy-to-eat appetizers!
For the Pimento Cheese:
• 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
• 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
• 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
• 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
• Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Mini Cheese Ball Bites:
• 18 ounces bacon, cooked until crisp and finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups diced)
• 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and finely chopped
• 1 to 2 jalapeños, minced (seeds & membranes removed)
• Pretzel sticks
Directions To make Pimento Cheese:
1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic salt, onion powder, and cayenne. Scrape bowl and mix in grated cheddar and diced pimentos until well combined. Season with salt and/or black pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until firm.
To make Mini Cheese Ball Bites:
2. In a medium bowl, combine diced bacon, chopped pecans, and minced jalapeños. Using a spoon or a small cookie scoop, form heaping tablespoons of pimento cheese into balls. Roll each pimento cheese ball in the mixture of bacon, pecans, and jalapeños, pressing coating into cheese so that it adheres.
3. Refrigerate cheese balls until firm, and keep them chilled until ready to serve. Just before serving, skewer each cheese ball with a pretzel stick.


Tips, Tricks, & Variations
To toast pecans, spread out on a sheet pan and baked in a preheated 350°F oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Allow pecans to cool before finely chopping them.
As long as you remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapeños and very finely dice them, they shouldn’t be too spicy. Use as much jalapeño as you wish, however, based on your personal preference.
If you’d like to use the Pimento Cheese recipe for purposes other than mini cheese balls, increase the mayonnaise to 1/2 cup. The reason the amount of mayo is slightly reduced for these cheese balls is to make sure the mixture isn’t too soft to roll into balls.
You can make the cheese balls ahead of time, but don’t insert the pretzels until just before serving or they will become soggy.

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