Sophisticated snacks that are ready in minutes

Sweet and sticky stuffed dates make for an impressive party platter or a simple but delicious bite-sized snack. They are full of energy and nutrients and, best of all, you can make them in minutes.

Thanks to their versatile flavor, stuffed dates work just as well with sweet or savory fillings. In this recipe, our first filling is a sweet and salty orange and walnut stuffing, which complements the caramel date flavor. For the second variety, the dates are stuffed with a whole almond before being soaked in a hot honey and cinnamon syrup, with a hint of warming black pepper.

Dates: a versatile health food

Dates are a staple in Middle Eastern cooking, adding sweetness to savory dishes and desserts. They have become a popular ingredient in health-conscious baking and vegan dessert recipes, thanks to their rich flavor, sticky texture and natural health-boosting properties. They make a great substitute for processed sugar, and create an indulgent base for many vegan desserts when blended with cocoa, nuts, and other ingredients.

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Dates are a great source of fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive system. They contain many essential vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, which is important for a healthy nervous system and brain health. They also contain antioxidants, which help to reduce inflammation and prevent cell damage. As they are very sweet and full of energy, they are a healthier snacking option for those seeking to manage their weight.

Because dates are very sticky, always wash thoroughly to remove dirt.

Choosing fillings for stuffed dates

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The best dates to use for stuffing are the larger Medjool dates, which originate in Morocco, as they have a juicy flesh and toffee-like flavor.

There are endless variations for stuffed dates, which can be mixed and matched as you please. Here are some ideas:

  • Fill with an orange and walnut paste (see recipe)
  • Hide an almond inside the date, and soak in honey and cinnamon syrup (see recipe)
  • Stuff the dates with crystallized ginger or dried fruit
  • Dip the dates in melted chocolate
  • Make a smooth filling with almond butter and cocoa powder
  • Wrap the dates in parma ham and serve with a toothpick.

When choosing a filling, think about complementary sweet and savory flavors, such as the hint of salt in the orange and walnut filling, and interesting textures, such as the crunchy whole nut in the honey and almond recipe.

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Sweet Stuffed Dates Two Ways (makes 20 dates)

20 Medjool dates

½ cup chopped walnuts

3 tbsp fresh orange juice

Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

10 whole almonds

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of black pepper

Directions

  1. Make a cut down the side of each date, removing the stone but without cutting all the way through. Set the dates aside.Dates3
  2. To make the walnut and orange stuffing, put the chopped walnuts in a food processor along with the orange juice and Himalayan salt. Pulse the blender until you have a rough paste. If the texture is too runny, add extra nuts. If it is too dry, add more juice.Dates5
  3. Gently put a teaspoonful of the mixture into half of the dates, and arrange on a serving plate.
  4. To make the almond stuffed dates, carefully put a whole almond in each of the remaining dates.
  5. Heat the honey in a small saucepan, and once it is very runny, add the cinnamon and black pepper and stir well. Reduce the heat and add the almond stuffed dates, coating each one in the sauce and allowing to heat through for a few minutes. Transfer to a serving plate.Dates7
  6. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • The orange juice in the walnut and orange dates can be swapped for orange blossom water if you have it.
  • The walnuts can be replaced with other kinds of nuts, such as pecans or almonds.
  • The almonds in the second recipe can similarly be replaced with other nuts, though harder nuts work best.
  • Honey can be substituted with agave syrup for a vegan option. Use half the amount.
  • Store the dates in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week, though they definitely won’t be there that long!

 

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