Makes 24 jalapeño poppers
This party bite is like a cross between a jalapeño popper and a bacon-wrapped date. They’re at once creamy, spicy, salty and sweet. You want medium- to large-sized jalapeños for this recipe so that they can hold enough filling, plus peppers that are equal in size so they cook in the same amount of time. If you can, use gloves while prepping your peppers to avoid potential “pepper burn” (you’ll thank us later!). For a spicier jalapeño popper, keep some of the seeds in the peppers.
- 12 medium jalapeño peppers (about 3-inches long)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves, plus small sprigs for garnish
- 3 scallions, white and light green parts only, very thinly sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 Rancho Meladuco Medjool Dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise
- 12 strips of bacon (about 1 pound, not thick-cut), halved crosswise
- Lime wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400° and line two rimmed baking sheets with aluminium foil. Top each with a wire rack (if needed, you can bake the jalapeño poppers in two batches).
Using a sharp knife, halve the jalapeños lengthwise through the stem. Using a small spoon, scrape out the seeds. Arrange the halves cut-side up on a work surface.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, cotija, cilantro, scallions and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper.
Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese filling into each pepper, then use a butter knife or offset spatula to smooth the top. It should be flush with the edge of the pepper. Gently press one quarter of a date into the filling.
Wrap one half strip of bacon around each jalapeño popper, wrapping it at an angle so the bacon is covering as much filling as possible (remember: the bacon will shrink in the oven).
Arrange the jalapeño poppers filling side up on the wire rack. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked. Remove the jalapeño poppers from the oven. If desired, preheat the broiler to HIGH and position a rack 4 inches from the heat. Broil the jalapeños until the bacon is crisp and the cheese is bubbling and brown, about 2 minutes.
Let cool slightly before serving, passing lime wedges on the side.
Recipe and photo credit: Julia Heffelfinger