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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Game Day Crunchers

I have a son who is a huge football fan. I am a huge pizza fan. I was tempted to name this super flavorful snack "Bronco Bites" after our favorite pro team...who just happen to be headed to the Superbowl. But then knowing that some of you are Seahawk fans, I decided to stay a bit more neutral. Game Day Crunchers will do. Don't just think football party food though, these will be awesome in my lunchbox anytime.

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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Anonymous said...

So gonna make these..thank you!!

Carolyn said...

Yum. What a fun and easy idea!

Anonymous said...

Mmm, going to try and add some bacon

Joan said...

WOW, Lisa...Just Wow!! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy, you could dip them in tomato sauce too, for the whole pizza experience, lol.

stepper57 said...

what are "Italian blend cheese shreds"?

Britt said...

This looks absolutely fantastic and I am definitely making these when I get to the grocery store to pick up some pepperoni!

Rachel said...

When I was young my mom would microwave pepperoni slices with cheese on top. So good. Never thought to blend them together. Good idea!

Triple Your Clicks said...

Wow, yummy! Thanks! I'll have to give this one a try. :)

Anonymous said...

I wonder if turkey pepperoni would be as good. It would be less fat for sure.

Anonymous said...

Can they be made with mozzarella cheese also?

Lisa Marshall said...

Yes, I think about any cheese would work. Mine just happened to the the Italian blend with mozzerella, parmesan, provolone, romano,and asiago. Not sure if the turkey slices would have the same texture, but I would sure try them in the oven to check how they do.

Barb said...

What did I do wrong? What type of pepperoni was used for this recipe? The packaged kind or the deli kind? I bought boars head pepperoni. Mine didn't come out crunchy but soft. The grease from the pepperoni oozed all over the pan so that made a steamy burning mess in the oven and the crunchers just kind of steamed in the juice. I have made plain old pepperoni and salami slices baked in oven and never had a problem but was not 100%happy with these. I would have liked crunchy. Would love to try these again with the help of making them crunchy.

unter der laterne said...

Hi Lisa, This recipe was a total failure. I had the ital. cheese mix and the pepperoni. The little heaps flattened out and *oozed*oil all over the pan. They are not crunchy at all but so so so salty. I cannot eat them. I doubled the recipe too- an expensive experience. Barbara.

Lisa Marshall said...

I used packaged pepperoni. They do leave grease, which is why I call for parchment paper. The oven kind are the softest of the three methods I mentioned. If they are too soft try either baking them a little longer or making smaller mounds on the sheet. If crispness is your main concern, microwaving is the best choice. Just watch to make sure they don't burn.

Anonymous said...

Made these for the super bowl today....YUMMO! Mine came out flatter and less pretty than yours....hopefully they are just as tasty, though!

Leah said...

These didn't work for me either. They flattened while cooking, and were soggy. :/

BethProverbs31 said...

Mine did not turn out like yours did, they were much flatter and all ran together. I had to cut them apart with a pizza cutter. I used the oven method and cooked them a bit longer because I used packaged pre-shredded cheese and after cooling a bit they were slightly crunchy. Good taste, but definitely did not turn out how yours did...LOL!

Brit said...

I made these today and they are delicious! I added a dash of garlic powder (because that's how I roll). I microwaved a few to see how that would go but since I was tripling (!) the recipe I decide that it would be quicker to bake since I can fit more at once. Both oven and microwave turned out great. They are greasy of course so I just put them on paper towels on a metal baking rack to cool and that took care of it.

The only problem is I ate like 8 of them while I was baking the other batch! Whoops! Definitely something I'd have to save for a party/group, because there's no way a batch would last more than 10 minutes if I was on my own!! :D

Mrs. Ruhl said...

I was going to make a double batch and then read your caution about making too many and eating them all! LOL So I made one batch and am having a hard time leaving them alone. Delightful!! Thanks

Sara B said...

Seriously? Super easy, cheaper than late night delivery pizza and fits in my carb/fat/protein ratio perfectly to finish my day. Happy former carb-addict tonight!