The recent semesters—remarkably short of socialization—deliver an unmistakable sense of urgency to compensate for lost time. There is a distinct flavor of the moment that demands us to take lessons from our quarantine kitchens, indulge our taste buds, and endeavor in entertaining and gathering again.
This recipe comes from trial and error and the nearly forgotten, yet adorned, busyness of rummaging around the kitchen, awaiting the impending arrival of guests. Inspired by the spirit of entertaining and by the curiosity of flavor, I tried my hand in making bacon-wrapped, goat cheese stuffed dates this past week. It’s an appetizer that I biasedly chose due to its glorious description of bacon-wrapped, but also, in part, by reason of its more creative nickname as “devils on horseback.”
Something of its nontraditional title reminded me of the forthcoming autumn season, humorously prompting me to imagine the headless horseman. Also, I’ve found that something about food named after devils rarely disappoints. And even more so than its playful name, these dates fit perfectly for fall with their warmth when they are pulled right out of the oven, and with the tasty explosion of their diverse set of flavors and textures that arrive in every bite.
For this recipe, the sweet and chewy dates contrast with the tangy, smooth, and earthy flavor and texture of the goat cheese. The crisped, caramelized bacon on the exterior completes the bite. And the finely chopped candied pecans on top perfectly balance the saltiness of the bacon. These dates pair exceptionally well with the accompaniment of a charcuterie board. Not only do they provide a delicious addition, but guarantee to draw in one’s eye on an appetizer spread.
So whether you are entertaining your friends or just looking to cook for yourself, I’d highly recommend testing this recipe. Who doesn’t like to gloat about the amazing date they had the other night?
6 ounces goat cheese (1 small log)
24 Medjool dates
12 slices thinly sliced bacon
1/3 cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup candied pecans
Preheat the oven to 400 ℉ and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Split the dates in half lengthwise, being sure not to slice them all the way through. After removing the pit, stuff each date with goat cheese, just enough for the dates to still be able to close with its contents. Then slice your strips of bacon in half, making the pieces more fitted to wrap around each date. After wrapping each date with bacon, puncture the dates with toothpicks to hold the bacon strips in place, and then move them to the prepared baking sheet.
Once the dates are separated on the baking sheet, evenly drizzle them with honey and lightly sprinkle them with the brown sugar and a pinch of salt. The coating of honey and brown sugar will help the bacon caramelize in the oven. Finely chop the candied pecans, sprinkling them on top as well. Bake the dates for 20 minutes or until bacon is crisp to your liking, remove from the oven, and allow time to cool. Enjoy!
Cover photo courtesy of Walder Wellness