This recipe is not my idea. You’ve seen many versions of this, I’m sure. People stuff all sorts of things in dates. Pecans… almonds… water chestnuts… But I prefer the cheese.
I always prefer the cheese.
I first had these when I worked at AOC in Los Angeles, years and years ago. They were the thing that everyone ordered when they first sat down. People ordered their dates before they ordered their wine. These babies are addictive. Amazing. And awfully simple.
Suzanne (as in Suzanne Goin- co-owner/executive chef of AOC, along with many other restaurants in the area) makes hers with Parmigiano Reggiano, but I like that I can often get an alternate cheese for a better price… so I make these with asiago, sometimes romano, sometimes pecorino… I’ve heard people make them with manchego before… So basically any semi-hard cheese- both nutty and buttery in flavor would be lovely here. (I would not recommend domestic parmesan. There isn’t enough flavor in it to make these to really shine.)
The idea here is that you’re getting some cheesy richness, a little sharpness, from the cheese…some honey-sweetness from the dates, and some salty-fattiness from the bacon that gets nice and crispy after roasting. They almost burst in your mouth. They’re incredible!! And you will find you may need to limit the amount each guest is allowed to consume, because I’ve had many a disappointing party guest enter the food line after my father only to find they’ve all been eaten. (I have since learned to keep a reserve stash of appetizers for after he’s gone through the line 4 times 😉 )
I serve these mainly around the holidays, and just the other day put them out along with my cheese shortbread for a pre-dinner cocktail hour spread. They were widely received, to say the least.
So here’s what y’all need to do. You need to make these for your upcoming New Year’s Eve party!
Don’t have an upcoming NYE party? No worries. Make ’em anyway. I promise you’ll have some happy eaters. Or a surprise visit from my father.
BACON WRAPPED DATES
Cut into the center of a deglet noor date (This is the standard, medium sized date you will find packaged in most grocery stores. The larger date variety you see in the produce department is called medjool, and those can be used as well if need be, but are a bit too big for the right flavor balance.)
Remove the pit if there is one.
Stuff a pit-sized piece of asiago cheese into each date, then mold the date around the cheese to close it up (an overflow of cheese is perfectly acceptable).
Wrap half a slice of bacon tightly around each (I recommend center cut bacon, as there is more meat).
Secure with a toothpick.
Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Roast at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked through and crispy.
Cool slightly, but serve warm to your eager guests.
And it needs to be said that my sweet and amazing and talented husband (even more sweet and amazing than these dates) took this photo while I was busy with my party prep the other day. He knew I would want a picture so I could share the recipe with you lovely people. Because he knows me so well.
Isn’t he lovely? XO