Let me describe the taste. Think pizza. Now think of that little bit of cheese that went over the edge and formed a crispy delicious crisp. Think about those pepperoni pizzas that are filled to overflowing with pepperoni. Know how just a few pieces manage to stick up above the cheese and get a touch of browning? That wonderful crunchiness? That is what these are. I am in heaven.
They are simply pepperoni and cheese. That's it. They are the cousin to the time honored cheese crisps and pepperoni chips, both of which have saved me from many a junk food craving. The difference is that the pepperoni and cheese are in each nugget. You don't have to choose one or the other. I used the food processor to finely chop the pepperoni and cheese, then scooped them out onto parchment.You don't want to eat a lot of these, so don't make too many. Trust me, you will eat them. Even if you hide them from yourself, you will find them... and eat them.
There are three ways to bake these treats. I prefer the oven baking because I have a little bit more control. Oven baked are pictured in the cup in the photo above. They can also do well in a toaster oven on the toast cycle. These stay a little more rounded and are the ones resting on the napkins in the photo above. If you are going for crispy, try the microwave oven version. They are the crunchiest, but also the easiest to burn. Directions below:
Game Day Crunchers
24 pepperoni slices
1 cup Italian blend cheese shreds
In a food processor, add the pepperoni and cheese. Process on pulse until the pepperoni is finely chopped and mixed in well with the cheese. Drop mixture by teaspoons onto parchment. Choose your cooking method.
Oven - Place parchment on a cookie sheet and bake 5 -6 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool.
Toaster oven - Place the parchment on the oven pan. Scoop 6 mounds of the mixture onto the parchment. Using the toaster function, use two cycles. Remove from oven and let cool.
Microwave - Place parchment directly on the rotating plate. Add scoops of the pepperoni mixture at least one inch apart. Heat at full power 25 seconds. Check for doneness. Some may cook faster than others, so remove the browned Crunchers and cook the others for an additional 5 seconds. Ovens may vary, so try a test batch at 25 seconds and adjust your time from there. Larger batches may take a bit longer. I baked 6 at a time.
Makes about 24 Crunchers.
A serving of 3 Crunchers has <1 g carb, 60 calories, 5 g fat, 4 g protein
I know that packaged shredded cheese has some starch to prevent the cheese shreds from sticking to each other. If you shred your own cheese, the mixture will be much stickier my test batch, so the outcome could be a little different. It may work just as well, I just haven't tried it to be sure. Let me know if you try.
Feel free to double the recipe here. Just store the extras under lock and key. If you are a pizza lover like me, self control is a definite problem with these. They are very flavorful and rich. A must bring treat if your Superbowl party features pizza. You will not feel deprived. But beware, carbivores are gonna want to devour these too.
Update: I have since made a batch with a different cheese. Using a pre-shredded Monterey Jack made the crunchers require a little more time to cook. For this version, adjust the cooking times. Mine took about 30 seconds in the microwave oven. These were very crunchy. A large batch could take longer. I suggest watching them closely and cooking until you see them start to smoke. Turn the oven off immediately. Let them cool to check the crunch factor. If you want them a little crunchier, send them back for another 10 seconds. Ovens may vary, so feel free to play until you find the sweet spot for your microwave and your brand of pepperoni and cheese.
The oven time increased about 2 minutes, up to 8 minutes. The oven variety are not as crunchy as the microwave version. The toaster oven instructions seem to be the same. Two cycles of toasting resulted in delicious snack bites. Choose whatever works for you.
If you prefer less fat--they do release a lot of oil on the parchment--use turkey pepperoni. It is also much less salty. With the turkey pepperoni, the snackers are not as crisp, but still tasty.
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