Dates Poached in Spiced Wine Spooned over Fresh Ricotta

By student epicure
March 14, 2011
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Author Notes: I like not-too-sweet Italian-style desserts. Several years ago, I was at a dinner party in Cambridge where the host made this wonderful dessert of poached dates with Apican spices served over vanilla ice cream. I was besotted. Apician dates are often stuffed with almonds and I've seen many different spice combinations used, but this is the combo I prefer. I also like something a bit lighter than ice cream, and so fresh ricotta has become the perfect vehicle. (Note: boyfriend seems to have eaten the whole batch already, scoundrel!) This makes what I might call a European sized serving of dessert -- just enough little bit of sweetness to satisfy you at the end of a meal =) - student epicurestudent epicure

Food52 Review: This recipe from student epicure packs a deep, rich and complex flavor in a light but elegant dessert. Star anise, cinnamon, fennel and black peppercorns flavor the heavenly wine syrup and poached dates, to be served over creamy but not-too-rich ricotta. This recipe is most likely intended for soft dates like the Medjool variety. I used semisoft Deglet Noor, which took significantly longer to cook, and needed to have their rough, papery skins removed after poaching. I'll be making it again, taking care to use Medjool dates. It is a winning combination and a satisfying end to a fine meal. - AppleAnnieAppleAnnie

Serves: 4

  • 20 pitted dates
  • 2 1/2 cups full bodied red wine (I like to use a red Zinfandel)
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole telicherry black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • fresh ricotta for serving
  1. Place dates and wine in a small sauce pan. Make a small pouch for the spices. I usually put them in a coffee filter and then fold it over and staple the edges close. Add pouch to the dates and wine and heat over medium heat until gently simmering for ~12 minutes.
  2. Remove dates from wine using a slotted spoon and place in a small serving bowl.
  3. Raise heat to medium/high and begin to reduce the wine. When you reach ~2/3 cup, add sugar and stir to dissolve. Continue reducing until wine has become syrupying and thickens on the back of a spoon (~20 minutes).
  4. Squeeze spice pouch and discard. Pour syrup over dates and stir gently to incorporate.
  5. Spoon ~1/3 cup fresh ricotta into four small dishes and then spoon 4-5 dates plus syrup on top of the ricotta to serve.

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