I love the combination of sweet with savoury or salty (or both), especially, for instance, when a cheese plate comes with some dried fruits or preserves to pair with the cheeses. This dish provides that perfectly balanced sweet-and-savoury-and-salty bite: sweet Medjool dates are stuffed with savoury cheese and then lovingly gift-wrapped in crispy, smoky, salty bacon. My husband and I polished off a batch of these quicker than I care to admit.
I serve something similar to these in the summer: I use mascarpone cheese for the filling, wrap the dates with prosciutto and serve them cold or at room temperature. However, it is absolutely freezing cold outside so I was craving something warm and comforting, and bacon tends to serve that purpose fabulously in all situations. The gooey, melted cheeses certainly don’t hurt either.
I actually prepared half of my dates with goat cheese, and half of them with an nice aged white cheddar. Both options had pros and cons, but both were decidedly delicious. The goat cheese stayed put while the date baked, ensuring that the entire chunk of cheese remained inside when they were served. The cheddar melted much more, causing some of the cheese to ooze out of the dates. For me, this is both pro and con: you lose some of the cheese filling inside, but you also get some of the crispy, cheesy, baked edges on the outside.
You can use either of these cheeses or substitute another variety if you like, but I suggest using a strongly-flavoured cheese in order to stand up to the sweetness of the dates. For example, a milder cheese like a mozzarella would melt beautifully, but you wouldn’t really be able to taste it in the mix. I’ve been meaning to try this recipe with a blue cheese, such as a gorgonzola; I’ll let you know when I do and if/how it turns out!
- 12 Medjool dates, pitted
- ½ cup cheese, such as goat cheese or aged cheddar
- 6 slices of bacon, cut in half crosswise
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Stuff each date with a heaping teaspoon of cheese. (Depending on the size of your dates, you may need more or less. When it comes to cheese, always err on the side of more! The date doesn't have to "close" back up). Wrap each stuffed date with one of the half-strips of bacon. Set dates seam-side down in an ungreased baking dish.
- Bake until the bacon is crispy and brown, about 20 minutes. Best served hot.