RECIPE: Cheddar Bacon Pimiento Cheese Ball

Calling someone or something a cheese ball is the ultimate take down — boring, lame, so yesterday.

But take a look at Pinterest, and you’ll see that cheese balls are trending once more. Versatile, easy-to-make and gorgeous, these globes of creamy deliciousness are perfect party food.

“They never went out of style for me,” said Melissa Sperka, an author and food blogger from Summerfield, N.C. “My mom always had cheese balls at the holidays. That was one of the things we looked forward to. I think people are realizing again how versatile they are.”

These dips in the round can be shaped like a football or Christmas tree, made sweet or savory, or otherwise tweaked to suit the maker. In “Melissa’s Southern Cookbook,” which came out in May, Sperka combines two of her favorite appetizers: pimiento cheese and the cheese ball.

“I am a true Southerner; I absolutely love pimiento cheese. I grew up on it, and I’ve passed that love onto my kids,” she said.

On her blog, Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen, she offers several ideas for holiday appetizers, but she says this cheese ball will definitely be on her party table.

“If you can take a classic and update it, making a fusion of pimiento cheese, a cheese ball and bacon, why not? Bacon makes everything better!”

Cheddar Bacon Pimiento Cheese Ball

From “Melissa’s Southern Cookbook,” by Melissa Sperka

Yield: 16 servings

1 cup chopped pecans

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided

1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimientos, well drained

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided

Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F. Spread the chopped pecans in a single layer on a baking pan. Roast for 6 to 8 minutes, then set aside to cool completely.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, onion powder, garlic salt, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce and pepper.

By hand, fold in the cheddar cheese, 3 tablespoons of the chives, the pimientos, and all but ¼ cup of the crumbled bacon. Shape the cream cheese mixture into a ball.

On a piece of wax paper, mix together the toasted pecans, the remaining tablespoon of the chives, and the reserved ¼ cup of bacon.

Roll the cheese ball in the mixture until fully coated.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, reshape into a ball, and chill overnight.

Allow the cheese ball to sit at room temperature for 1 hour prior to serving with assorted crackers.

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