Pecan goat cheese marbles (variable servings)

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The holidays are nearly upon us (Ack!) and that means it's time for finger foods. Just as this recipe is my summer go-to hors d'oeuvre, this Epicurious concoction has become my reliable autumn/winter favorite. What follows is a simplified version of Epicurious' recipe.

You will need:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 11 oz soft goat cheese, chilled
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • black pepper

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, toss the pecans with butter, sugar, and salt. Transfer the pecans to a rimmed sheet pan; bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  2. Once cooled, pulse the pecans in a food processor until they're finely chopped. Transfer them to a wide, shallow bowl or a plate. Stir in the rosemary and a few grinds of pepper.
  3. Use a teaspoon or your hands to make chunks of goat cheese into small balls. (I found that using my hands was easiest, but it gets MESSY.) Roll the balls in the pecans and transfer them to a serving plate, sticking a wooden pick in each.

It's been a few months since I've made these, so I don't remember if it's best to form all the cheese marbles and then roll them in the pecans or to do them one at a time. It probably doesn't matter that much. What I do remember is that it's a good idea to serve these soon after making them. Last year, I kept them in the fridge for a few hours before serving them, and the pecans became soft. If you serve them shortly after making them, the contrast between the soft, creamy cheese and the crunchy, chunky pecans is glorious. Of course, the number of servings you end up with will depend on the size of the marbles. I make mine bigger than a real marble but smaller than a ping pong ball. (They're probably the same size as a gumball from one of the swirly, coin-operated machines at the mall, but perhaps that reference makes sense only to moi.) 

I know it's snobby, but I can't help squealing a bit when I look at that photo. I'm quite proud of that one.