Grape Balls of Fire!

If you’re making snacks for a football game, these spicy appetizers will be a guaranteed fan favorite. Meatballs are dipped in a fiery glaze and baked in a spicy puff pastry wrap. Set aside some of the glaze for dipping, and watch the hearty treats disappear.

I have a real aversion to storebought frozen meatballs, but if you like them, by all means, use them and save yourself some time! I used ham balls because I had just made a bunch of them. They were wonderful, (you’ll find the Taste of Home recipe here: Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Balls) but beef would be great too!

I admit to being a total wimp when it comes to spicy foods, so I ask you to use your judgment and season the glaze to taste. You may want to add a whole lot more hot sauce that I used. If you’re making your own meatballs, you could add a little Chinese hot mustard to the raw meat, or red pepper flakes for another layer of spiciness. This is a recipe that is just begging for you to make it your own!

Tips:

  • If you want to use store-bought puff pastry (not phyllo dough!) you can roll the spices onto the dough before cutting out the circles.
  • If you make your own dough, don’t panic if it’s very, very crumbly and messy at first. With each roll, fold, and turn, it will get more cooperative. Every time I make this I think I’ve done something wrong, but it always comes together!
  • The dough can be made ahead, which will make the assembly a snap. I even cut out the circles, dusted them with flour, and stored them in a zipper-type freezer bag for 3 days and they worked perfectly. I left the dough a tiny bit thicker and cut out smaller circles, then when I was ready to use them I used a small roller to thin and enlarge the dough.
  • When you dip the balls in glaze and roll in breadcrumbs, your fingers will get messy, so either get an assembly line going or be near a sink or bowl of water.
  • After baking, immediately move pastries from the cupcake pan onto a cooling rack so the bottoms won’t get soggy.
  • The tops will open up a little during baking to show the top of the meatball. If you don’t want this, you can go with Plan ‘B’ and use two smaller rounds of dough (imagine a flying saucer) like this:

It’s a little bit more work, but pretty. Not sure if “pretty” is critical if you’re making this for a group of football fans, though! Your call.

The pastry on the left uses two rounds. The one on the right uses one larger round.

Grape Balls of Fire!
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Author:
Makes approximately 24 appetizers. Pastry dough can be made ahead and stored for a day or two in a heavy plastic storage bag.
Ingredients
  • SPICY ROUGH PUFF PASTRY:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon spicy garlic seasoning (or ½ teaspoon garlic salt and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle seasoning - more to taste.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
  • ⅔ cup very cold water
  • GLAZE:
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup grape jelly
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chili paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne (more to taste)
  • a few dashes hot sauce of your choice
  • ASSEMBLY:
  • 24 cooked MEATBALLS, approximately 1-inch to 1½-inches
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I use Panko)
  • 1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
Instructions
  1. PASTRY: Combine flour and seasonings directly on work surface.
  2. Cut cold butter into small chunks, 1-inch or less
  3. Using a bench scraper, knife, or sturdy spatula, chop butter into flour until butter pieces are about the size of a large pea.
  4. With scraper in one hand and cold water in the other, drizzle and toss until all the water has been incorporated. Don't overwork it - it should look like a shaggy mess.
  5. Use your scraper or spatula to shape into a 5x8 inch rectangle, with a short edge facing you.
  6. Roll out dough to approximately 6"x10", using the metal scraper to form straight edges. Keeping the short edge facing you, Flip the bottom edge up to the middle (it will be crumbly...just do the best you can) and the top edge down to the bottom. This will create three equal sized layers. Give the dough a turn to the left, lightly flouring the surface if necessary to keep it from sticking, and repeat. Repeat 3 more times. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days.
  7. GLAZE: In a medium saucepan combine brown sugar, grape jelly, vinegar, chili paste, and cayenne. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from heat and add hot sauce to taste. Reserve ½ cup glaze in a small bowl for dipping.
  8. Heat oven to 400 F. Grease (very lightly!) the bottom of each cavity in 2 cupcake pans.
  9. Remove dough from the refrigerator. If the dough has been in the fridge for more than an hour, allow it to warm up slightly on the counter for a few minutes. Following the previous instructions, roll and turn two more times, then roll out dough very thin - about 15 x 22". (Similar to wonton or eggroll wrappers.)
  10. Cut circles from the dough, keeping them as close together as possible. Stack scraps, each piece on top of the previous piece) for re-rolling if necessary. For a meatball that is 1½ inches across, you'll need a 4½-inch or 5-inch circle.
  11. Dip each meatball in the glaze, roll in breadcrumbs (this will keep help absorb the glaze), and place in the center of the dough circle. Moisten the edge of the dough all around with egg wash and lift the dough up, pleating it around the meatball and pressing together at the top. Place in the prepared cupcake pan and brush lightly with egg wash.
  12. Bake 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
  13. Serve with glaze.

Add spicy seasoning to flour on work surface.

Cut butter into small pieces

Chop the butter (don’t blend!) into the flour. Butter pieces should be about the size of large peas.

Use a scraper to corral it into an 8×5-inch rectangle.

See this crumbly mess? This is what the first “fold” may look like. Don’t worry!

The next roll and fold will look better!

Final fold before it goes in the fridge. The small, flattened pieces of butter that are visible are your friends. They will make the pastry flaky.

Glaze ingredients.

Boil the glaze ingredients for 2 minutes, then add hot sauce. Allow glaze to cool until it’s thick and sticky. Mmmmm.

Coat meatball with glaze, then roll in breadcrumbs. (I use Panko.)

Place meatball on the circle of dough. Brush egg wash around the outer edge of dough.

Bring edges up, gather together at the top and pinch together, like an Asian dumpling.

Brush with egg wash and they’re ready to bake

Baked. Lift them out of the pan and let them cool on a rack. Or . . . just eat ’em!

Okay, I know these are a little more work than Pigs in a Blanket, but c’mon. Puff pastry! Meatballs! If you’ll try these, I promise to come up with a very easy recipe next time.

Lorinda

Play Review – Winning Super Bowl Dishes!

 

Game Day Collage 2016

I put my four favorite football party recipes together into this quick post with links to all of the recipes. Enjoy!

An easy cheese ball and some delicious, crispy rye crackers are perfect for a crowd. You’ll find the recipe for both here: Football Rye Crackers and Cheese Ball

football rye crackers and cheeseball watermarked

 

Salmon dip in a crusty football-shaped bread bowl is a lot more fun and imaginative than little smokies or chips and salsa! It uses one of my easiest bread recipes, and the salmon dip is a snap to throw together. Find it here: Succulent Salmon Dip (in a crunchy football bowl!)

salmon dip bowl from The Rowdy Baker

 

Little soft pretzels stuffed with ham and cheese will make everyone cheer! Get the recipe here: Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bombs

 

ham and cheese pretzel bombs

And my favorite of all, a football shaped meatloaf made with ground pork and ham, and coated with a tangy glaze…a true “pigskin” for those chest-beating guys. Come and get it: Game Day Glazed Meatloaf

Game Day Glazed Meatloaf from The Rowdy Baker

 

PARTY ON!

Lorinda