10ouncesgoat cheeseat room temperature (plain, honey, or herbed goat cheese are all yummy!)
1/4cupraw pecan halves
Honey for drizzling
Line a baking sheet or plate that will fit in your freezer with parchment paper (and clear out some space in your freezer to hold it).
Place the goat cheese and cranberries in a mixing bowl. With a sturdy spoon, break up the goat cheese and stir it together with the cranberries. Continue to stir and "smush" the cheese, until the cranberries are fairly evenly distributed (it doesn't need to be perfect or hold together at this point).
Portion the goat cheese mixture and roll into 18 balls, distributing the cranberries evenly. (To get 18, I find it easiest to divide the mixture into 3 portions, divide each of those portions in half, then divide each half into 3). The balls will be about 1 1/4 inches or so each. Place them on the prepared baking sheet.
Place the pecans in a food processor and pulse until they are finely ground (don’t over blend and turn them into pecan butter). Alternatively, you can place them in a thick ziptop bag and crush them with a rolling pin (or wine bottle).
Transfer the ground pecans to a shallow bowl and stir together with the panko, salt, and thyme.
In a separate medium bowl, thoroughly beat the egg.
Working one or two at a time, roll a goat cheese ball first in the egg mixture, then the panko mixture. Lightly pat to adhere the crumbs to all sides. I find it easiest to use one hand as the "wet hand" (this is the one you use for the eggs) and one as the "dry" hand (for adhering the crumbs). Place the ball back on the parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining balls.
Freeze the balls for 30 minutes to harden. After 30 minutes, they are ready to bake, or you can transfer them to a ziptop bag for longer freezer storage.
When you are ready to bake, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 470 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the goat cheese balls on top.
Bake the goat cheese balls until the crumbs are lightly golden and crisp, about 7 to 10 minutes depending upon your oven. Keep an eye on them as they cook to ensure the coating doesn’t burn. If your oven doesn’t bake evenly and you notice the ones in the pack browning before the ones in the front, rotate your pan 180 degrees F.
With a thin, flexible spatula (or by lifting up the sheet of parchment—be careful, they roll!) immediately transfer the balls to a serving plate (if you leave them on the sheet, they will melt).
Let cool 1 to 2 minutes, then drizzle with honey. Enjoy immediately!
TO STORE: Refrigerate goat cheese balls in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.