Food is an important part of the holiday season, and we all look forward to the dinners, side dishes, and desserts that will soon become a part of our celebrations with family and friends. There’s one more essential food group to the holiday season: appetizers. Not that we want to ruin our meals by eating too many snacks before, but let’s face it – it’s going to happen, so we might as well be eating foods that are tasty and delicious, right? Let us introduce you to our maple pecan cheese ball.
The candied pecans are downright irresistible. Sautéed in butter and brown sugar, the pecans become not only more flavorful from the act of toasting them in the pan, but become coated in a deliciously buttery sweet sauce that hardens, turning the nuts into “candy.” We especially love the combination of a savory, creamy cheese next to the sweet candied nuts. We’ve added garlic and onion powder as well as a swirl of maple syrup to the cheese to amp up the flavor experience of our maple pecan cheese ball.
A maple pecan cheese ball is party-ready in a matter of minutes so you can turn your attention to more pressing matters, like entertaining family and friends. You’ll want to serve this with a nice butter or whole grain cracker, even slices of crostini would work beautifully here. If you’ve been asked to bring an appetizer to a holiday party, you’ll want to bring something nice but also something simple. May we suggest a homemade maple pecan cheese ball as a quick and festive shareable snack to nibble on.
Maple Pecan Cheese Ball
20 minutes to prepare serves 6-8
- 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup whole pecans (or walnuts)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
- Melt butter in a medium-sized pan on medium heat. Once butter begins to bubble, add pecans, brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour pecans onto a sheet of parchment paper and spread evenly to cool.
- Transfer cooled candied pecans to a food processor and pulse until chopped into small pieces. If you do not have a food processor, place nuts into a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet. Pour crushed nuts onto a plate or into a bowl.
- In a small bowl, mix room temperature cream cheese with onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, and 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup until well combined.
- Gather cheese and roll into a ball. Roll cheese ball into the nut mixture until cheese is covered with candied pecans.
- To serve, place cheese ball in the center of a serving plate and drizzle it with remaining 1½ teaspoons maple syrup. Surround maple pecan cheese ball with a variety of crackers or toasted pieces of bread.
Recipe adapted from Peas and Crayons.