Amid my frustration with formatting this blog’s design, I figured I’d take a moment to share the recipe for those dates that I’ve been promising.
The Great Date came into our lives almost a year ago. Last January, my dear husband and I went to Rustico in old town Alexandria to celebrate his birthday. We had decided on Rustico for their wide beer selection, but had no idea that the food would be so fantastic- and that, is when we had them. The most amazingly delightful stuffed dates that I’ve ever had. A buttery, yet crisp coating that combined both elements of sweet and savory; creamy blue cheese at just the right degree of melted…That night, we ordered 3 orders of the appetizer and gorged on them so much that we nearly didn’t even eat our entrees!
Much to my dismay, they were a seasonal item that has since been removed from the menu- I checked…it isn’t back yet this year either. And that, is where my quest began. You guessed it, another quest to recreate something at home. Only this time, I had far more success finding my ingredients than that last incident with the quail eggs. (I’m still not over that, by the way… I WILL find them somewhere, and that grilled cheese shall be mine!)
Ahem- as I was saying. Challenge, accepted. I decided the fateful day would be New Year’s Eve and that I would make delicious stuffed dates for us to enjoy with our best friends that evening. A few days beforehand, I set out to get all of my ingredients and go forth with attempt #1 of blindly recreating these dates.
Let me just say- attempt 1 = fail. Not a horrible failure, but MAN was it a hot mess in our kitchen. Stuffing the pitted dates with a piping bag = not worth my trouble. Blue cheese was magically everywhere EXCEPT inside the date. Not only that, but I made the coating far too sweet. And lastly, to top it off, I burned them. Good thing I only made a dozen, and I had a ton more ingredients. Oh well, onward to attempt 2.
Attempt 2 was a bit wiser- I sliced the pitted dates open and stuffed them with a spoon… without making the cheese melty first. WISE decision- noted. Also, I fixed my coating mixture to contain less sugar. Third, I realized that the dates were sticky enough on their own that the coating would stick, and didn’t require the eggwash first. I love when I can eliminate a step! Lastly- I decreased the temperature and the cook time. This round, I only made 6- no sense making a million when it’s only a test batch! Attempt 2 was far more successful than attempt 1, but they still just weren’t quite right.
I needed to sleep on it.
In my dreams, I was haunted by those perfect little dates. Damn things… what was it about them that was different than mine?? the filling was spot on… the flavor was pretty darn close… but the way they were cooked- That was it. Something was just off. And then, at about 2am, it hit me. Maybe I shouldn’t bake them!
THUS- Attempt 3- the final attempt and batch for our friends… was born. And, I might add- pretty close to perfect. (Although- Rustico, if you happen to see this… HOW DO YOU MAKE THEM?!)
The Great Date
10 oz pitted dates- I used Mariani
4.4 oz danish blue cheese, extra creamy – I used Castello Rosenborg
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
Slice your pitted dates in half lengthwise, and stuff each with about a tsp of blue cheese. I smashed it in a bit and then gave the date a small squeeze to close it up a bit.
Combine your breadcrumbs cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll each of the cheese stuffed dates in the breadcrumb mix.
Melt a half stick of butter in a skillet over medium high. Toss your coated dates into the skillet and toss in the butter with a spatula for about 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with another tsp of mixed cinnamon and white sugar before turning over into a bowl.
Let cool for a moment, and serve warm.
They taste even better as they cool a tiny bit. Enjoy!