I love a good cheese appetizer, ya know everything is better with cheese. One of my favorites is a traditional Southern Cheese Ring. The traditional version marries a cheddar cheese and pecan mixture with Strawberry Preserves. It really is the most interesting flavor combination and quite refreshing during the summer time, especially with homemade preserves. By the way, this is a favorite of native Georgian, President Jimmy Carter.
For New Year's Eve, I really wanted to make a Cheese Ring for one of our appetizer selections, but I only had ONE jar of my homemade strawberry preserves left and June is a LONG way off. I really didn't want to share my VERY LAST jar, so I went looking for alternatives. I saw many references to using pepper jelly in place of strawberry preserves. Since I had an abundance of homemade pepper jelly in my pantry, I decided to give it a try. This simple substitution took a somewhat summery, sweet appetizer and morphed it into a spicy, cool weather treat that was a hit at our New Year's Eve party. I will certainly be making this one again and I might just add a touch of cayenne pepper to the cheese mixture to up the heat just a bit.
Pepper Jelly Cheese Ring
16 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c mayonaisse
4 green onions, chopped
1 c chopped pecans
1/2 t garlic powder
1 c pepper jelly
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl using you hands or a hand mixer. Mold mixture into a ring on serving platter. Cover and chill 2 - 3 hours. Before serving, fill center of ring with pepper jelly. Serve with Club crackers.
I've already made a note to make at least one extra batch of Pepper Jelly this summer to make sure I have enough to make this recipe a few times during the year.
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