Make Ahead

Chevre Devils

June 23, 2010
1 Rating
Photo by Bobbi Lin
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

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)
Ingredients
  • for the candied pecans
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (up to 1/2 teaspoon, depending on heat preference)
  • 1/4 cup light agave
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 pinch 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
In This Recipe
Directions
  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!
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gingerroot

Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.

    100 Reviews

    Courtney H. November 28, 2017
    Made these for Thanksgiving appetizers and they were a big hit! I used less agave on the pecans as suggested but other than that, followed the recipe exactly. Next time, I will try whipping the goat cheese with a little cream cheese or maybe mascarpone to make it smooth and then I'll pipe it into the dates with a pastry bag.
     
    Michelle D. December 20, 2016
    Would these keep all right overnight in the fridge, provided I added the pecans just before serving?
     
    Jenna G. March 25, 2015
    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!
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot March 25, 2015
    Hi Jenna,
    Thanks for letting me know! So glad you like the candied pecans. I'd love to hear what you top with them.
     
    Melissa C. February 11, 2015
    what other types of cheese could you use for this recipe?
     
    BakerK February 2, 2015
    Great recipe! Everybody really enjoyed them.
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot February 2, 2015
    So glad! Thanks for letting me know.
     
    Melissa C. January 24, 2015
    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!
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot February 2, 2015
    Thanks for letting me know!
     
    Kathleen May 2, 2014
    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!
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot November 16, 2014
    Oh yum, wrapped in bacon! Will have to try that this holiday season. Thanks, Kathleen.
     
    Sharon S. January 24, 2015
    When you use the bacon wrap, I think they are called Devils on Horseback.
     
    Sharon S. April 6, 2014
    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.
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot April 7, 2014
    Mmm...Stilton sounds like a delicious substitute - can't wait to try them with it.
     
    maggiepcs March 22, 2014
    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.
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot April 7, 2014
    Thanks for letting me know maggiepcs! I'm glad you enjoyed them.
     
    QueenOfGreen March 5, 2014
    Perfect for Oscar's night. They were a huge hit! Thanks for the recipe!
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot March 12, 2014
    So glad you enjoyed them, QueenOfGreen! Thanks for letting me know.
     
    linda February 4, 2014
    Could you use cream cheese instead of chevre (for those who don't like goat cheeses)???
     
    Michelle D. December 31, 2013
    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.
     
    Pamark December 16, 2013
    If I were to use fresh thyme, what would be the quantity?
     
    Terry F. December 11, 2013
    I detest the pissy taste of goat cheese. blech
     
    hardlikearmour December 11, 2013
    And I despise your pissy, self-important, useless comment.
     
    QueenSashy December 22, 2012
    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.
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot December 26, 2012
    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.
     
    QueenSashy December 26, 2012
    Happy Holidays gingerroot! As a matter of fact, I am eating you pecans right now :)
     
    healthierkitchen January 1, 2013
    I am too! I made these for our DC area book party and I love them. A delicious combination of flavors!
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot January 2, 2013
    Hooray! So glad you enjoy these, hk. Happy New Year!
     
    Flanerie December 16, 2012
    I made these for Thanksgiving, they disappeared quickly! Delicious! I used dark agave. They were beautiful! Thanks for this recipe.
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot December 26, 2012
    Thanks for letting me know, Flanerie! I'm so glad you enjoyed them. Sorry for the belated response. Happy Holidays!
     
    Trixie76ie August 14, 2012
    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!!!
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot August 31, 2012
    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.
     
    AmyRuth March 14, 2012
    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.
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot March 16, 2012
    Oh, thank you so much AmyRuth! What a thoughtful comment. These are definitely friend making! Thanks for letting me know. : )
     
    Karlski February 9, 2012
    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
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot February 9, 2012
    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.
     
    Angela T. January 17, 2012
    Oh boy, these are sooooo yummy!!! Thank you
     
    Author Comment
    gingerroot January 20, 2012
    Thank you, Angela! So glad you enjoyed them.