If you’ve never had red pepper jelly, you might be put off by the idea, but it’s actually really delicious. It’s sweet with a little tart and has a peppery kick. It’s a Southern tradition, usually served with cream cheese, but though I’m from the South I only learned of it recently. It makes a great snack, with crackers, but I wanted to make it a party dish. The vibrant red color is perfect for Christmas. But after a quick Google search for recipes, I suddenly lost my appetite. Many people are simply unwrapping a block of cream cheese, placing it on a plate, and pouring the jelly over top. It looks unappealing, to say the least.
Seriously? This is the best we could do?
Some recipes I found blended the cream cheese and pepper jelly together, creating a noxious-looking pink dip that made me shudder. The two elements play together so well because they are different, and blending them would eliminate the contrast in flavor and texture. Plus uninitiated eaters may see the pink color and assume the tint comes from a berry. I try not to trick the people who eat my food—it just seems like bad form.
I decided to give the recipe a makeover. Yes, it does include one or two more steps than dumping a block of cream cheese on a dish and emptying a jar of jelly overtop. But it’s the price we pay to live in a civilized society.
- One package of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of diced pecans
- Half a jar of red pepper jelly
- Two green onion stalks
- Spread the cream cheese into a small casserole dish, ramekin, or other shallow dish.
- Press the diced pecans into the top of the cream cheese.
- Open the jar of jelly, and microwave (without the lid) for about 30 seconds, or until runny.
- Pour the jelly over the cream cheese and pecans. You can use your judgement here, but I went for about a 1/4 inch layer, which was half my jar.
- The dip can now be chilled until you’re ready to serve it. You could eat it warm, but I prefer it chilled.
- Just before serving, wash your green onions and thinly slice, on a slight diagonal. Sprinkle the green onion slices on top.
- For this recipe I used Trader Joe’s red pepper jelly, which has small bits of pepper suspended in the jelly. I have also used the Stonewall Kitchen brand which does not have the bits of pepper, but tastes very similar.
- This is so simple and easy I hesitate to call it a recipe. You could experiment with different nuts or spicier jellies, but I went with pecans and red pepper jelly for the Southern association.
- My feelings won’t be hurt if you leave off the green onions but they are bright and crisp, and give the whole dish a Christmasy flare.
Thanks for reading!