At least an hour before smoking – but ideally overnight – soak your wood chips in water.
Wearing gloves, cut the tops off the peppers, and cut each in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out as much or as little of the seeds and ribs as you’d like, set aside.
In a large bowl, microwave the cream cheese for 30-60 seconds at a time until it’s soft enough to stir well. Beat until creamy and with no lumps. Add shredded cheese, stir until well distributed.
Spoon all of the mixture into piping/frosting /pastry bags, trying to avoid creating air pockets as you go, and leaving enough room to twist the bag shut. (You can spoon the filling in to the peppers, if you like… but piping it in is so much quicker, easier, and cleaner!)
Cut ¾-1″ off the pointed end of a filled pastry bag, carefully pipe filling into each of the pepper halves. As you run out of filling, start using the next bag.
This is a good time to preheat your smoker (or charcoal grill) to about 200F
Next, wrap the poppers in bacon. Depending on the size of your poppers and the cut of your bacon, you’ll want between ½ – 1 strip of bacon per popper.
Leaving a little room between each, transfer the prepared poppers to your smoker racks.
Smoke for 1-2 hours, checking on them right around the 1 hour mark. For our smoker, we use 2 big handfuls of wood chips at a time, adding more chips after about 30-40 minutes.
You can also cook these on a normal charcoal grill: we’ll toss about 1 big handful of wood chips right on the coals, adding more about every 20 minutes.
Personally, I like them cooked to around the 1 hour mark. My husband prefers them around the 2 hour mark. Whichever way you smoke them, keep an eye on them and remove them when you're happy with the degree of smoking.
Try to let them cool for at least a few minutes after they come out of the smoker, as they’ll be molten inside and burn your mouth. I have a hard time waiting, so I won’t judge if you park yourself next to the newly-removed poppers like a wild eyed vulture 🙂