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
Test Kitchen Notes
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
- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 10 minutes
- Makes 24 stuffed dates (easily doubled)
- for the candied pecans
Chinese five-spice powder
cayenne (up to 1/2 teaspoon, depending on heat preference)
- for the dates
orange or tangerine zest
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!