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Ah December, how did we get here so quickly? It seems like only yesterday I was putting away my last remaining Halloween decorations (wait, that’s actually true… don’t judge). Time is flying and the holiday entertaining season is upon us and I need some tasty sustenance, don’t you? Like these Hormel Pepperoni Balls – fluffy Italian bread surrounding a pillow of crisp Hormel Pepperoni Minis plus melty cheese, dipped in garlic and pepperoni oil kissed butter, lightly coated with fresh Parmesan, ready to dunk in zesty pizza sauce. This is a dish you cannot refuse.
So the idea for these pepperoni balls came from a local restaurant in my township called Goodfellows. It’s a fun sports bar that serves up their own version of Pepperoni Balls, and I think all of my friends who have tried them have loved them. I think the dough balls at the restaurant might be deep fried, which I replicated by dipping the baked balls in a combination of melted butter, pepperoni oil and fresh garlic. After making a batch of these yesterday, my kids came home from school saying the whole house smelled like an authentic pizzeria. I’ll take that as a compliment! They scarfed them down too, as an after-school snack.
I decided to use the Hormel Mini Pepperonis because of their cute factor and practical size for stuffing inside the dough balls. Also, I am a big fan of crispy pepperoni atop my New York-style pizza, so to achieve that same crispness, I browned the pepperoni in a non-stick skillet first. This provided me with the pepperoni oil to mix with the butter and fresh garlic to really make my appetizer stand-out from the crowd.
I used a quick, no-rise homemade dough for these that required about five minutes of my time to prepare. But if you are intimidated by homemade bread dough, you could use purchased cans of breadstick dough instead. Also, while I like the idea of dipping these pepperoni balls in a zesty pizza sauce, I really preferred them plain. That way, the pepperoni flavor really shined through!
The only truly time-consuming part of this zesty and impressive appetizer is filling and sealing each of the 24 dough balls. Beyond that, the ingredients are inexpensive and the flavors are sure to please a crowd. If you’re like me, you love coupons too, so be sure and print this $1.00 off two packages of Hormel pepperoni when you go to the store to get your ingredients and make them yourself. Just like the Godfather says, it’s an offer you can’t refuse.
- 1 pkg. (5 oz.) Hormel Pepperoni Minis
- 1 1/2 c. warm water (120 – 130 degrees F)
- 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
- 1 t. salt
- 1 t. sugar
- 1 T. olive oil
- 4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 c. (4 oz.) provolone cheese, shredded
- 1 c. (4 oz.) freshly ground Parmesan cheese
- 3 T. unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- Jar of your favorite pizza sauce for dipping
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large non-stick skillet, cook the pepperoni, stirring often, over medium-high heat until pepperoni is crisped, about 6-8 minutes. Remove pepperoni to clean bowl with slotted spoon.
- To the pepperoni oil left in the pan, add the butter and melt over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and stir, cooking for about one minute until fragrant. Remove from heat. If butter and oil begin to solidify before ready to dip the pepperoni balls, simply re-warm over low heat.
- In a large bowl, combine the water and packet of yeast and allow to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the salt, sugar and oil, whisking to combine.
- Add the flour and stir until a ball of dough begins to form.
- Turn out onto well-floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed if the dough is sticky. Knead for about 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic and just tacky to the touch.
- Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide dough evenly into 24 balls.
- Flatten each ball into a pancake shape and place a pinch of shredded provolone and a pinch of crisped pepperoni in the center of the dough. Pinch ends together to seal well.
- Place filled dough balls, seam side down, 12 on each of two sheet pans lined with silicone liners or parchment paper.
- Bake the pepperoni balls, rotating pans halfway through baking time for 12-14 minutes, or until dough balls just begin to brown.
- Roll each dough ball in the prepared pepperoni oil, butter and fresh garlic combination. Dip the tops of each dough ball into the freshly ground Parmesan cheese.
- Serve immediately with warm pizza sauce to dip.