1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool 15 minutes.
2. Stir together mayonnaise and next 2 ingredients. Stir in pecans and cheese.
3. Spoon mixture into a plastic wrap-lined 4-cup ring mold with a 2 1/2-inch center. Cover and chill 2 hours.
4. Unmold cheese ring onto a serving platter. Discard plastic wrap. Fill center of ring with preserves. Serve with crackers. Garnish, if desired.
*Sharp white Cheddar cheese may be substituted.
Four Swaps for Strawberry Preserves. Serve any of these mixtures with Ashley's Cheese Ring for a new take on a classic. You can prep and chill up to four days ahead.
Mint-Pepper Jelly: Stir together 1/2 cup pepper jelly and 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh mint.
Basil-Blackberry Preserves: Stir together 1/2 cup blackberry preserves and 1 1/2 to 2 tsp. chopped fresh basil.
Rosemary-Pear Preserves: Stir together 1/2 cup pear preserves and 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary.
Balsamic-Strawberry Preserves: Bring 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 18 to 20 minutes or until reduced to about 2 Tbsp. Let cool 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup strawberry preserves.