As fall turns to winter and the holidays sneak increasingly closer, it’s important to solidify your meal plan. One of the hardest categories to fill seems to be the appetizers, we’re here to help fill that gap.

Cheese balls are popular and recognizable in the classic, savory way. Let’s shake that up. Introducing a fusion of flavors, including pomegranate juice and chili peppers, that’ll spice up your appetizer table. Be careful, this cheese ball will overshadow and outperform any veggie tray.

Hot Pepper & Pomegranate Jelly Cheese Ball

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup fresh pomegranate juice
  • 2 jalapenos sliced in half, with seeds
  • 2 red chili peppers (preferably Fresno peppers or something similar), sliced in half with seeds
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp of classic powdered pectin
  • Pomegranate arils, optional
  • 2-8 oz packages of cream cheese
  • Loaf of crusty bread or crackers (for serving)

Instructions:

In a deep saucepan bring to a boil, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and chili peppers. When the mixture has reached a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain mixture with an extra fine strainer or cheesecloth so juice is clear and return juice to saucepan. Add pectin and bring to rolling boil, stirring until powder dissolves. Add sugar and bring to a hard boil, boil for 1 minute, stirring till sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat.

Pour mixture into a hot glass jar (be sure the containers are hot to prevent the hot jelly mixture from breaking the glass) – you’ll need either two 8oz jars or four 4 oz jars. Pour jelly mixture into jars and allow to cool till the mixture is at room temperature. Seal one half of the jelly mixture and refrigerate for later (use within 3 weeks). Reserve the other half of the mixture for your cheese ball.

Cheese ball assembly:

On top of a large piece of plastic wrap, place one package of cream cheese on top of the other and smash together. Cover with plastic wrap and slowly form the cheese into baseball shape. Carefully remove plastic wrap and place cheese ball on a serving dish. Spoon a generous amount of jelly onto the top of cheese ball and allow to drip. Serve with crusty bread or crackers, and pomegranate arils for topping.

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