TasteFood by Lynda Balslev

When a Potato Is Worth the Effort

I won’t lie. It takes a little work to assemble these potato bites, but I promise you they are well worth it. The holidays are quickly approaching, and with that comes the need for fun, tasty finger food for festive entertaining. Look no further than these twice-baked potato poppers. They are a crowd-pleasing appetizer you can serve at a Halloween party, while watching the big football game or at a fireside cocktail gathering. And, yes, while they are time-consuming to assemble, they can easily be prepared well in advance of serving and then popped into the oven at the last minute. So go on, roll up your sleeves and make a double batch -- because these cheesy potato poppers are guaranteed to be a hit.

Cheddar and Horseradish Potato Poppers

Active time: 45 minutes

Total time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Yield: makes 20 poppers

20 round small potatoes, 1 to 1 1/4 inch in diameter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1/4 cup sour cream or whole milk Greek yogurt

1/4 cup (packed) finely grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons (packed) finely grated fresh horseradish

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup (packed) finely grated parmesan cheese

Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Trim the potatoes: Slice a small tip off of each potato to create a flat bottom for the potatoes to stand without rolling or tilting. Slice about 1/4 off of the tops and discard the tops. Place the potatoes in a medium bowl with the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet, top-side down. Bake until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and set aside until cool to the touch.

Using a teaspoon, gently scoop out the centers of the potatoes without piercing the bottoms. Place the potato flesh, sour cream, cheddar cheese, butter, horseradish, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a bowl. Using a fork, mash until well combined. Carefully spoon the filling back into the potato shells, mounding the stuffing.

Arrange the potatoes, stuffed-side up, on a baking sheet. (The potatoes may be prepared up to 6 hours in advance to this point. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing.)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Top each potato with a generous pinch of parmesan cheese. Transfer to the oven and bake until the potatoes are hot and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with fresh thyme.