Perfect for Super Bowl festivities
Come Super Bowl time, we start thinking of party fare, like dips and snacks. Which makes sense—in the US, the Super Bowl is almost synonymous with munchies.
Want to change up your appetizer routine this time? Well, you’ve probably seen pre-made pastry shells at your supermarket (the ones that often are made from phyllo—fillo—dough). Just fill them with a dip or spread, and you’ve got instant canapés.
Easy! And with these morsels on the table, you’re ready for gridiron glory.
Recipe: Jalapeño Pimento Cheese Canapés
We’ve written about Pimento Cheese before. This delicious combo of cheddar cheese and pimentos is a staple in the southern US. Add jalapeños to the mix, and you’ve made a good thing even better.
Jalapeño Pimento Cheese tastes better if made a couple of hours ahead of time (so the flavors get to mingle). Better yet, make it the day ahead. But don’t fill the pastry shells with the cheese spread until an hour or so before you’re ready to serve—so the shells don’t get soggy.
It takes about 5 minutes to prepare the jalapeño pimento cheese, plus another 5 minutes to fill the pastry shells.
This recipe makes about 1½ cups of pimento cheese, enough to fill around 2 dozen shells. You can store leftover pimento cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- ½ pound grated cheddar cheese, preferably sharp or extra-sharp (I often buy packaged, pre-grated cheese; see Notes)
- 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers (to taste)
- one 4-ounce jar canned pimentos (see Notes)
- ¼ to ½ cup mayonnaise (to taste; I prefer more rather than less)
- black pepper to taste (about ¼ teaspoon for me)
- salt to taste (optional, but I find some is needed; a couple big pinches of Kosher salt is usually enough)
- cayenne pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon for me; but it you don’t like spicy, use less or omit it)
- pre-made, ready-to-serve pastry shells (often sold frozen; see Notes)
- garnish of jalapeño pepper slices (optional)
- Grate the cheese (if not using the pre-grated variety). Place the cheese in a mixing bowl.
- Wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice (or use a mini food processor). Add the chopped peppers to the mixing bowl with the cheese. Then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Drain the pimentos. Add them to the mixing bowl with the cheese.
- Add about half the mayonnaise you think you’ll need, then mix all the ingredients together. In addition to adding flavor, the mayo helps “dilute” the cheese so you’ll get a nice, spreadable texture. Keep adding mayonnaise until you get the consistency you want.
- Add black pepper, optional salt, and cayenne to taste. (You may want to add a bit at a time and keep tasting.) Stir well to incorporate. The longer you mix the ingredients, the smoother the cheese will become. But a chunky texture is nice—and that’s what I usually make.
- Pack the Jalapeño Pimento Cheese into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least two hours, so the flavors develop (although you can serve it right away if you wish).
- When ready to serve: If you purchased frozen pre-made pastry shells, remove them from the freezer and allow them to thaw at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Fill each shell with about a tablespoon of jalapeño pimento cheese (a #60 scoop works perfectly for this; see Notes). Garnish with a slice of jalapeño pepper if desired, and serve.
- It’s traditional to use sharp cheddar cheese in this recipe, but regular or mild cheddar also works, if that’s what you prefer. Most people use yellow cheese, but feel free to substitute white cheddar.
- If you’re buying supermarket brand cheese (which is fine for this recipe), you might want to consider buying the stuff that’s already grated. I once did a taste test comparing the regular and grated cheddar cheese sold under my supermarket’s house brand. I couldn’t tell the difference. Plus, the grated variety was actually cheaper than the chunk cheese. Go figure.
- It’s fun to use a mix of cheeses in this dish (for example, half cheddar and half mild white cheese, such as Monterey Jack). Or for added flavor, maybe a Pepper Jack.
- Some people like to include a bit of cream cheese. For this recipe, you might try adding 2 ounces. If you do so, you’ll probably need less mayo—probably no more than ¼ cup.
- Bottom-line when it comes to cheese: Use what you like. (I suggest making the recipe as written once so you’ll know the basics; then start playing with it.)
- Canned pimentos are traditional in this dish. They add some flavor, but it’s mainly their color that’s appealing.
- If you want to go all out, you can roast a whole red pepper instead of using canned pimento. Once the pepper is roasted, remove the blackened skin and cut the pepper into small dice.
- If you live in the southern United States, you’ll probably use Duke brand mayonnaise when you make Pimento Cheese. But Duke is not available in most of the country, so elsewhere the mayo of choice is Hellmann’s (in the western US, it’s called Best). Or you can use Homemade Mayo, of course. BTW, Miracle Whip doesn’t work well in this recipe (it’s too sweet).
- If you want, you can heat the filled pastry shells in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese a bit—turning a cold canapé into a hot one.
- You can also fill the pastry shells with almost any dip or spread you can imagine.
- You’ll often find pre-made pastry shells in the frozen foods section of your supermarket. You can store them at room temperature, but they keep for months in the freezer. They usually thaw in a few minutes and are ready to use—perfect for impromptu parties.
- We find that a #60 disher (scoop) digs out just the right amount of cheese for each shell. (It’s called a #60 disher because the bowl is sized so that each scoop is about 9/16th of an ounce, or a little over 1 tablespoon. Thus, you’ll get 60 scoops per quart of cheese when you use this size disher.)
Dips R Us
“Good stuff!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, biting into a Jalapeño Pimento Cheese Canapé. “And eating these little pastry shells makes me feel fancy.”
“Some of our other dips would work great in these shells too,” I said. “Like our classic California Clam Dip. Or Smoky Salmon and Cream Cheese Dip. That one would be particularly good heated in the oven. So would our Artichoke Dip with Cheddar Cheese.”
“Or you could use one of our Asian-themed dips,” said Mrs K R. “You know, the Shrimp Toast Dip or the Crab Rangoon Dip.”
“Then there’s that universal favorite, Velveeta Tex-Mex Dip,” I said. “That one’s always best served warm. But I think I’d prefer it with tortilla chips, rather than in one of these little pastry shells. Tradition is tradition, you know.”
“Speaking of which,” said Mrs K R, “you’ll recall my tradition of never watching the Super Bowl.”
“Yes, though you always sample the snacks I make for the big game.”
“Of course,” said Mrs K R. “And I’m sure you’ll be making a main course, too. Because Riffs do not live by dip alone.”
“Absolutely,” I said. “In fact, I’m working on a new recipe for an old favorite.”
“Sounds intriguing,” said Mrs K R. “Can you reveal it?”
“Well,” I said, “we haven’t had mac ‘n cheese for ages. So I’m going to make us a Bacon Macaroni and Cheese for game day.”
“Cool,” said Mrs K R, crunching a pastry shell. “Cheesy and dippy, that’s us.”
She has such a way with words.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Smoky Salmon and Cream Cheese Dip
California Clam Dip
Artichoke Dip with Cheddar Cheese
Velveeta Tex-Mex Dip
Shrimp Toast Dip
Crab Rangoon Dip
Or check out the index for more recipes