Baked Jalapeño Poppers

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I have lots of recipes to post for you in the coming days, some of which are very good for Christmas gifts or parties.  Today's post is good for any time of the year, but I just made them yesterday for Drew's birthday party.  Were you part of the popper craze of the mid '90's?  I remember when they came out, and how they were on every casual dining restaurant's menu.  My aunt would buy the frozen ones in the store and serve them at every family get together.  Fun times.  Now, of course, the poppers aren't king of casual appetizers, but they're still pretty popular, and pretty good. 

I first started searching for popper recipes earlier this year, and my main criteria was that the popper be baked.  For one thing, it's healthier, and for another thing, I don't have a fryer and have no desire to purchase that much oil.  After searching all my favorite sites for recipes, I settled on Emeril Lagasse's Baked Jalapeño Popper recipe, and he did not disappoint.

The panko bread crumbs make the popper crunchy, as though it were fried, but I still get the health benefits of the baking.  The cream cheese combined with monterrey jack and spices gives it a good, cheesy interior that isn't too greasy and won't ooze out of the pepper and onto your baking sheet.  The essence, which I did use from having some in my pantry from way a long time ago, adds color and flavor throughout the popper. 

Make these for your next get together.  They're relatively easy, and so good. 

Baked Jalapeño Poppers
from Emeril Lagasse

12 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise, stems, seeds and membranes removed

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or less, to taste
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
8 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
1 cup panko crumbs, or fine dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.

In a bowl, cream together the cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, cumin, and cayenne.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, and 2 teaspoons of the Essence. In a shallow dish, combine the panko crumbs and remaining 4 teaspoons of Essence. In a third dish, combine the flour and remaining 2 teaspoons of Essence. Spread 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture into the middle of each jalapeno half. One at a time, dredge in the flour, dip into the egg mixture, then dredge in the panko crumbs, pressing to coat. If necessary, repeat the process. Place the coated peppers, cut side up, on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the filling is runny and the crust is golden, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

  • I had 10 big, huge jalapeños that I used, and had just a bit of leftover filling and no extra egg to dip in.  If you make more or if you have big jalapeños like I did, you may want some extra egg on hand
  • I used about twice the amount of breadcrumbs needed, so make sure you have more than 1 cup.
  • I found the coating stuck best when I did the flour and egg wash twice before moving to the crumb coating.
  • Important!  Wear gloves when handling jalapeños or other hot peppers with your hands- they will burn you for hours afterward if you don't!

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