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One of my favorite indulgences is jalapeño poppers. When I see them on a menu, I absolutely have to order them, whether it’s at Jack in the Box or a nice burger place, and I love them all. The spiciness of the pepper contrasting with the cooling creaminess of the cream cheese, the crispy-crunchy breading, and sometimes even with bacon—there is obviously a lot there to love. And yet, I have no interest in making them. Figuring out how to keep the stuffing inside the jalapeños and then figuring out how to keep the breading clinging to their smooth exteriors is something that I will leave to professional kitchens with industrial deep fryers. But what I have come up with instead is a way to get all the awesome flavor combos—and more—of a jalapeño popper, without those complicated puzzles.
What I came up with were these pepper popper crostini! I think they look a little fancier than jalapeño poppers, and that they would be perfect for a little summer bbq now that things seem to be transitioning back to “normal” in the States. I garnished mine with pea flowers, pea tendrils, and chive blossoms that I grew in my backyard in order to make these look extra pretty and special, and I also added cilantro for some nice freshness and pepitas for extra texture. Don’t they look like a garden party for your mouth? But you can dress them up or down depending on your needs. I always think of toast recipes as guidelines rather than hard rules to dictate what you have to do, so I would encourage you to follow this recipe for the bread, cream cheese, prosciutto, and peppers to get a delicious and flavorsome base that totally elevates the flavors of a jalapeño popper…and then, get creative with the garnishes!
The spread that holds all the toppings onto the toasts is a cream cheese that has been majorly boosted in flavor by Spice Tribe’s California Love blend, which has really become a go-to chili blend for me whenever I want to quickly and easily give things some savory spiced seasoning. It has roasted chili, cumin, coriander, garlic, onion, oregano, bay leaf in it, and it truly goes great with everything. I believe this is what really gives these crostini much more depth of flavor; whereas jalapeño poppers taste exactly like the combination of their individual ingredients, using this spice blend not only ties all the ingredients together, but it enhances how good they taste together. I folded it in gently into softened cream cheese so that you can see some distinct streaks of the spices, but either way, you’ll know this seasoning blend is there when you taste it!