A quick hello amidst the throws of a blah winter and major cabin fever. We haven't had snow on the ground since Christmas and the sun has only made cameo appearances since the beginning of January. This is my third northern Illinois winter and it has definitely been the mildest but also the grayest. It's around this time of year we always kick ourselves for not booking a February vacation somewhere hot and sandy, and this year is no exception.
Luckily Chicago is only a couple hours away and full of museums and fun indoor things for us to do. We've also been killing time by getting some projects done around the house. We finally tackled our pantry which basically looked like tornado hit it. A new coat of paint, some custom-built wood shelves, and a few baskets later, and I finally had my oasis of organization. Sometimes I just open the door and stare because it really makes me that dang happy.
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought a decadent hor d'oeuvre like this one would be fun to try this year, and I just so happened to stumble upon these delicious dates at Aldi the other day. Promptly after politely trying one date, my husband declared he had a texture issue with them, which is kind of hilarious given the fact that he LOVES the candy Dots, which I think are on the same level of stick-to-your-teeth-gooey-ness. We agree to disagree. :)
Anyway, I like them but there was no way I could plow through an entire pound of them, hence the development of this recipe. The saltiness of the bacon really helps to cut through the sweetness of the dates, and the pistachios give it the added crunch it needs. I think this would be a great appetizer for a stay-at-home Valentine's Day dinner or even a larger dinner party. It's sweet, decadent, and perfect for the middle of winter.
Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Maple Glaze and Pistachios
This would be a great appetizer for a stay-at-home Valentine's Day dinner or even a larger dinner party. The saltiness of the bacon really helps to cut through the sweetness of the dates, and the pistachios give it the added crunch it needs. It's sweet, decadent, and perfect for the middle of winter.
Yield: 4 appetizer servings
16 sun-ripened dates
8 slices (1 lb.) bacon (I used thick cut, but thin will work too)
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Remove the pits from the dates by making a slit lengthwise in the side of each date and gently remove the oblong pits with your finger or knife. Close the dates back up.
- Cut each strip of bacon in half.
- Roll each date up in a half-strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
- Line an edged baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the bacon-wrapped dates out on the tray, evenly spaced. Bake for 15 minutes, then use tongs to flip each one over, then continue baking for another 15 minutes (less time if using thin bacon). Remove from oven. Note: You need to keep an eye on the bacon to be sure it doesn't burn. Lay a loose piece of aluminum foil over the top of the dates if the bacon starts to burn. You will know when the bacon is done because the fatty, white parts of the bacon will be golden.
- Brush some maple syrup over the tops and pop the tray back in the oven for a few minutes (with the foil loosely on top). Remove from oven.
- Line the dates in a pretty fashion on a serving tray, drizzle with more maple syrup, and garnish with chopped pistachios. Enjoy warm or at room temp.
- I have a gas oven which I think runs cooler than an electric oven. If you have an electric oven, I would decrease the baking times to about 8-10 minutes for each side, but still keep an eye on them to prevent burning.