Author Notes: Why are stuffed (or wrapped) dates so delicious? For me, eaten alone, dates are almost too decadent – chewy with a cloying sweetness that likes to linger. Wrap dates in a cured pork or fill them with tangy goat cheese and it is a match made in heaven! I first had something like this years ago at a potluck and have been making variations of it ever since. I think this particular candied pecan recipe achieves the perfect balance of savory, sweet, spice and crunch. Whenever I make these, I get looks of pleasant surprise from the uninitiated and knowing smiles from those familiar with them. I especially like making these during the holiday season. Note: This recipe makes more pecans than stuffed dates; store extra pecans in an airtight container and they will keep for about a week. – gingerroot —gingerroot
Food52 Review: Yes, gingerroot just entered these beauties in our Open House contest but we’ve long had our eye on them. The thyme-spiked chevre and crackly spiced pecans are perfect foils for sticky sweet Medjool dates. Amanda called them “thirsty-making” and therefore ideal for an open house. Notes: We liked ours packed with goat cheese, and advise doubling the filling amounts (if you’re chevre devils like us). You might also want to go scant on the 1/4 cup of agave, to avoid runoff and concentrate the spice. – A&M —The Editors
Makes: 24 stuffed dates (easily doubled)
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 10 min
for the candied pecans
teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
teaspoon cayenne (up to 1/2 teaspoon, depending on heat preference)
cup light agave
cup pecan halves
pinch sea salt
for the dates
teaspoon dried thyme
teaspoon orange or tangerine zest
cup soft goat cheese (such as Montrachet), set in a bowl at room temperature to soften a bit
Medjool dates, pitted by making a slit down the center and removing the pit, keeping the date as intact as possible
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine spices in a small bowl and stir to mix.
- Pour agave into small metal bowl or pie pan. Set bowl or pan over saucepan with small amount of boiling water for about a minute. This will make the agave easier to work with. Remove bowl or pan from heat.
- Add pecans to agave and toss to coat.
- Add spices to pecans and toss to coat.
- Spread pecans on prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
- Cook in the oven for 10 minutes, checking and stirring (agave should be bubbling) once or twice with a wooden spoon. Pecans should be fragrant and golden brown. Be careful not to burn the pecans.
- Remove pan from oven. As they cool, sprinkle pecans with a pinch of sea salt. Slowly begin separate the pecans from the parchment. If the pecans seem sticky, let them cool a little longer. When finished they should have a hard shell and a nice crunch.
- Mix thyme and orange zest into softened goat cheese, stirring to combine evenly.
- Using a sharp knife, make a slit in the top of each date and carefully remove the pit. Stuff dates with about 1/2 teaspoon of goat cheese, give or take some to fill the date.
- Top each stuffed date with a candied pecan. Arrange on serving platter and watch them disappear!
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Photo by Bobbi Lin
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