Chevre Devils

By • June 23, 2010 • 102 Comments

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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&MThe Editors

Makes 24 stuffed dates (easily doubled)

for the candied pecans

  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/4- 1/2 teaspoons cayenne (depending on heat preference)
  • 1/4 cup light agave
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • pinches sea salt

for the dates

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon orange or tangerine zest
  • 1/2 cup soft goat cheese (such as Montrachet), set in a bowl at room temperature to soften a bit
  • 24 Medjool dates, pitted by making a slit down the center and removing the pit, keeping the date as intact as possible
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Combine spices in a small bowl and stir to mix.
  4. 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.
  5. Add pecans to agave and toss to coat.
  6. Add spices to pecans and toss to coat.
  7. Spread pecans on prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Mix thyme and orange zest into softened goat cheese, stirring to combine evenly.
  11. 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.
  12. Top each stuffed date with a candied pecan. Arrange on serving platter and watch them disappear!

Tags: dinner party, Easy, finger food, Holidays, savory

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Comments (102) Questions (1)

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2 months ago Jenna Gagel

Made just the nuts last night. This is now my go-to sweet 'n' spicy nut recipe. It's very easy, timing was perfect in my oven, and they set with a crunchy coating that almost shatters in your mouth.

I used maple syrup instead of agave and found I could double the amount of pecans it would coat. Plus I crumbled up the candied spiced maple glaze left on the parchment paper and it's going to make a wonderful topping for something!

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2 months ago gingerroot

Hi Jenna,
Thanks for letting me know! So glad you like the candied pecans. I'd love to hear what you top with them.

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3 months ago Melissa Caron

what other types of cheese could you use for this recipe?

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4 months ago BakerK

Great recipe! Everybody really enjoyed them.

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4 months ago gingerroot

So glad! Thanks for letting me know.

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4 months ago Melissa Ariana Case

Mmmmmmm ... made these last night (using the Stilton suggestion) and the candied pecans to take to a friend with Celiac Disease. They were SO good. Thank you!

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4 months ago gingerroot

Thanks for letting me know!

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about 1 year ago Kathleen

I love to make these at home, except for an extra savory touch I wrap them in half a strip of thin sliced bacon and cook them directly on the baking sheet in a 400 degree oven until crispy. Heaven!

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6 months ago gingerroot

Oh yum, wrapped in bacon! Will have to try that this holiday season. Thanks, Kathleen.

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4 months ago Sharon Shade

When you use the bacon wrap, I think they are called Devils on Horseback.

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about 1 year ago Sharon Shade

Substitute Stilton for the goat cheese and forget the other ingredients and you have an incredibly delicious and balanced snack. Even people who don't think they like Stilton love this hors d'oeuvre and it is perfect with a glass of really cold dry champagne or blanc de noir.

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about 1 year ago gingerroot

Mmm...Stilton sounds like a delicious substitute - can't wait to try them with it.

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about 1 year ago maggiepcs

I remembered last minute that my mother has an orange allergy, so I left out the zest. I also used some honey to make up for the small amount of agave I had left. They're delicious! I will use orange zest next time I make them for people who aren't my mom; I'm sure that brightness will be a nice addition.

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about 1 year ago gingerroot

Thanks for letting me know maggiepcs! I'm glad you enjoyed them.

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about 1 year ago QueenOfGreen

Perfect for Oscar's night. They were a huge hit! Thanks for the recipe!

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about 1 year ago gingerroot

So glad you enjoyed them, QueenOfGreen! Thanks for letting me know.

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over 1 year ago linda

Could you use cream cheese instead of chevre (for those who don't like goat cheeses)???

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over 1 year ago Michelle de Lima

This has become one of my go-to party/potluck recipes. I've done it with both fresh and dry and I prefer fresh if I have it on hand--it lends a nice, grassy note to the chevre. I also skip the step of heating the agave, as it is easy enough to work with as is.

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over 1 year ago cookbookchick

The general guide is 1 to 3, dried to fresh. So for this recipe which calls for 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, I would use 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme leaves. I thought of using fresh thyme when I made these as I had some, but I decided to make the recipe as written, Perhaps gingerroot can advise you.

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over 1 year ago cookbookchick

And if you do try using fresh thyme, please let us know how it comes out.

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over 1 year ago Pamark

If I were to use fresh thyme, what would be the quantity?

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over 1 year ago Terry Franco

I detest the pissy taste of goat cheese. blech

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

And I despise your pissy, self-important, useless comment.

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over 1 year ago cookbookchick

Made these for a Thanksgiving app. One guest's comment said it all: "These are FANTASTIC!"

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over 1 year ago gingerroot

So glad to hear it, cookbookchick! Thanks for letting me know. Happy Holidays!

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

I made them several times with orange zest, and also tried with lemon zest. Both were lovely. But the pecans, alone, OMG, they are addictive. I now make them regularly for the parties, as the guests cannot have enough. And just finished one batch to give friends for Christmas.

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over 2 years ago gingerroot

Happy Holidays, Queen Sashy! I have to agree with you about the pecans, they disappear quickly, don't they? I'm so happy you enjoy these; I'll have to try them with lemon zest next time.

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Happy Holidays gingerroot! As a matter of fact, I am eating you pecans right now :)

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over 2 years ago healthierkitchen

I am too! I made these for our DC area book party and I love them. A delicious combination of flavors!

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over 2 years ago gingerroot

Hooray! So glad you enjoy these, hk. Happy New Year!

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over 2 years ago Flanerie

I made these for Thanksgiving, they disappeared quickly! Delicious! I used dark agave. They were beautiful! Thanks for this recipe.

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over 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks for letting me know, Flanerie! I'm so glad you enjoyed them. Sorry for the belated response. Happy Holidays!

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almost 3 years ago Trixie76ie

I made these for our cousin reunion this last weekend and they were a hit. Lovely fun to make, and the taste is amazing! I had a few people with scepically raised single eyebrows that were fun to watch turn into looks of pleasant surprise. They sure didn't last long. Thanks for this recipe, gingerroot!!!

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over 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Trixie76ie! Sorry I did not respond sooner, I am not getting all my notifications and stumbled on your post today. That very reaction is my absolute favorite with these stuffed dates. I'm happy everyone enjoyed them.

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about 3 years ago AmyRuth

I know its spring.... but I'm making these for take along to a little in home cooking experience and I'm looking forward to making new friends with these delicious morsels. Do you think I will? :") I've enjoyed them before and they are so delicious . If you are tempted..... make them! Simple.

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Oh, thank you so much AmyRuth! What a thoughtful comment. These are definitely friend making! Thanks for letting me know. : )

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over 3 years ago Karlski

Hello, these look/sounds very good indeed. In my country it is not very common to use Agave. Is there a substitute for the agave? Thanks

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

Hi! Thank you for your comment. You could substitute light corn syrup for the agave, or maybe even honey. Just be sure to watch the pecans so they don't burn. I'd love to hear how they turn out if you make them.

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over 3 years ago Angela T. Macleod

Oh boy, these are sooooo yummy!!! Thank you

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, Angela! So glad you enjoyed them.