Smoky Football Cheese Ball with Pecan-Bacon Crust

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 20 min (includes chilling time)
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 10 servings
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Ingredients

6 strips bacon, at room temperature 

Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature 

1 cup (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese 

1/4 cup heavy cream 

2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco 

1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika 

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 

1 cup (8 ounces) chopped pecans 

3 slices white Cheddar or provolone cheese 

Crackers or your favorite bread, for serving 

Directions

  1. Lay the bacon strips in a cold skillet, raise the heat to medium and cook, turning, until desired crispness, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, Cheddar, heavy cream, hot sauce, paprika and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth and even. Scrape the mixture onto a serving platter and use clean hands to shape it into a football. 
  3. Chop the bacon and combine with the chopped pecans in a medium bowl. Press the bacon-and-pecan mixture into the cheeseball to cover completely. 
  4. Cut the slices of cheese into one long 3/4-inch thick strip and 5 to 8 small strips. Arrange the cheese strips on the cheese ball to look like the laces on a football. 
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill for at least 2 hours before serving with crackers or bread.