PINE CONE CHEESE BALL APPETIZER
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- 1 ¼ cups almonds
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1/3 cup crumbled bacon pieces or packaged Real Bacon Bits
- 1 jalapeño, diced and seeds removed
- ½ cup pepper jack cheese, grated
- ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper
- Optional: sprigs of rosemary for garnish
- In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, bacon bits, diced jalapeño, and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use clean hands and work the ingredients together to create a large ball. Chill overnight in covered bowl to allow flavors to blend.
- On a serving platter, divide cheese mixture into 2 portions and shape each into a pine cone. This works best by simply using your hands to roll each portion into a ball, then gently squeezing on end downwards to create somewhat of a narrow point.
- Press the almonds at a slight angle into the cheese, starting at the narrow end of the pine cone shape. Continue to overlap rows until all of the cheese is covered.
- Garnish with rosemary sprigs, and serve at room temperature with crackers or toasted crostini.
- This cheese ball has a slight spiciness to it from the pepper jack cheese and jalapeño. To create a milder flavor, simply replace the pepper jack cheese with a milder cheese and substitute the jalapeño with green onions.
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