I’m not one to test recipes during a gathering. Truthfully, it is something I highly recommend shying away from because you can never be 100% sure of how the dish might turn out. With that said, I’m also not one to always take my own advice.
This past weekend, I went out on a limb and explored dates for the first time in my kitchen. I’ve had them at restaurants and have always been enchanted by the seamless blend of sweet and savory ingredients that tend to be present whenever dates are on the menu. So naturally, I had to try making them at home.
I needed a finger food — something small for the guests at my Southern Feast this past weekend to nibble on before dinner was served. I prayed to the food gods for courage and decided to make Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates for the very first time. And they were good!
This recipe I share with you offers variations on the types of cheeses you can use as a filling. What remains the same is the way the stuffed dates are cooked. Baking and broiling warms the dates just enough to give you a gooey center while making sure the bacon encasing the sweet nuggets is crisp.
While I would never recommend trying something new when you are anticipating guests, I have to say this time, I’m glad I went against my own wisdom.
For your next gathering, if you’re looking for a new finger food, check out this recipe. They can be constructed ahead of time, but I will warn you. You’ll want to eat a whole plate of them yourself!
Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates
(recipe serving size – 16 pieces)
For the dates:
16 dates, pitted
6 slices thick-cut bacon (preferably applewood smoked)
1 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1 oz goat cheese
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and an oven-safe wire rack, laying the aluminum foil down first and the rack on top of the foil. Place the baking sheet and rack in the enter of the oven while it preheats.
To pit the dates, slice each date lengthwise down one side. Remove the seed from within the date with the tip of the knife. Once pitted, place a small piece of cheese no longer than the date itself inside the fruit.
Wrap each date in roughly 1/3 of a strip of bacon (this may vary depending on the length of the bacon). Skewer the bacon to the date with a toothpick.
Sprinkle pepper on the goat cheese-stuffed dates and smoked paprika on the cheddar-stuffed dates.
Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and rest it on a trivet or heat-proof surface. Place the dates directly on the oven-safe wire rack and return the baking sheet to the oven.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the bacon-covered top of each date has crisped.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let the dates sit for a moment, allowing any excess oil to drip from the bacon, and transfer the dates to a serving platter. You may leave the toothpicks in or remove them once the dates are cool enough to handle.
Serve the dates while warm.
- A great cheese choice is manchego cheese. Use the same amount of cheese (1 oz) for 8 dates and sprinkle a bit of chipotle chili powder across the top for some added heat.