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  • Lauren Palmeri

Spooky Sesame Cheese Brain

The cheese brain has been the centerpiece in my Halloween spread for years! Its a delicious, flavorful, unexpected crowd-pleasing giant cheese ball that makes a spooky statement. Roasted shishito peppers, wasabi and sesame oil make this spooky centerpieces irresistible. I like to serve mine with rice crackers, grapes and more roasted shishitos. Top it all of with sriracha for spicy brain realness... If you don't have a brain mold, and making for a smaller crowd, cut the recipe in half, form into an oval brain shape right on serving platter and use the sriracha to create the brain effect. Happy Halloween!

8 oz shishito peppers

8 scallions, root ends trimmed

1 Tbsp olive oil

4, 8 oz. blocks cream cheese, room temperature

1 lb. shredded, sharp, white cheddar

1/2 cup light mayo

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 tsp salt, or to taste

green food coloring, to taste

2 Tbsp wasabi paste

2 Tbsp black sesame seeds, plus more to top

1 cup wasabi peas, finely chopped in food processor, divided

sriracha, to garnish

*special equipment: brain mold (sold @partycity)

Preheat oven to broil. On a baking sheet, add shishitos and scallions; drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt. Broil until just charred, about 3-5 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly. Remove stems from shishitos, finely chop broiled vegetables.

Using an electric mixer, combine cheeses, mayo, oil, salt and food coloring until well mixed. Add charred veg, wasabi paste, sesame seeds, and half of the ground wasabi peas; mix to combine and adjust seasoning to taste. Spray brain mold with cooking spray and dust with remaining wasabi dust. Transfer sesame-cheese mixture to the brain mold. Cover with plastic and chill, upside down, for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Turn onto serving platter, I like to serve mine on a cake stand for dramatic effect. Garnish with more wasabi powder and sesame seeds, if desired. Drizzle sriracha down the center of the brain and then around it, to create a "brain design." Sprinkle top with extra sesame seeds and ground wasabi peas. Serve with rice crackers, grapes and more roasted shishito peppers, if desired.

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