My obsession with dates seems to be never-ending.
For my latest snack, I created my spin on the goat cheese stuffed date. I think a common misconception about dates is that they are difficult to use, or “too fancy”. I was speaking to my mother the other day, explaining what I was making and her response? “Wow, how sophisticated”. Although goat cheese stuffed dates with pecans and cinnamon, may sound super pretentious, they are anything but. I was exactly like my mom a few years ago, anytime I would see dates at the store, I thought one of two things every time:
1. Food for snobs
2. Weird, gross, brown blobs.
I was dismissive about the incredible fruit. I didn’t think I was missing out on anything. I am ashamed to admit I refused to taste them until I moved to California in 2016. While always present, and not entirely that expensive anymore, I had a delusion that they tasted like prunes (still can’t get me on that train).
Southern California is the largest producer of dates in the United States. Coachella valley reaches record high temperatures daily, which creates the ideal environment for this beautiful palm to flourish. Egypt is the world leader in date production, the desert conditions are ideal for beautiful date fruit palms. There is a saying that this plant grows best “with its feet in water and head to the sun”, needing 100-degree weather and plenty of water to prosper. Considered in biblical literature as the “Tree of Life”, dates in my opinion are one of the most nutritional foods on the planet.
I know what you are thinking. "Well, I read that dates are crazy high in sugar". Blah blah blah. You know how many times I have had people tell me not to eat two bananas in one day because they are "crazy high in sugar", only to grab for a doughnut while lecturing me?
Please. Don't give into the whole "sugar" thing with dates.
Sugar in dates is mainly glucose and fructose, with trace amounts of sucrose. Glucose is your body's preferred source of carbohydrates, which makes them a great choice for a natural sweetener, or super quick sweet treat. As long as you aren't diabetic, you shouldn't worry about the sugar.
And these cheesy dates highlight this precious ingredient's ability to be a stealth chameleon in both sweet and savory avenues.
Luckily, they are not only addicting, but they are simple.
Basically, pit the dates. This is super important and obvious, but I have bit into a pit before and it was unpleasant and terrifying. You know that horrible feeling you have after biting into a seed or pit of something? The teeth rattling feeling? Yeah. Don't do it. Pit, people, PIT.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, and toast your pecans before stuffing. On low heat, toss the pecans (you can cut them like I did for the pictures, I ended up not doing it the next time I made them, it was easier keeping them whole), the cinnamon, and a pinch of salt together (also optional but I always do it). Toast until fragrant and slightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Take a teaspoon of the goat cheese, and gently stuff the dates. The cheese is much easier to work with if you leave it out for 15-20 minutes prior to using. Repeat for all the dates, and top each with one of those toasted pecans. This is optional, but if you brush each top of the pecan with a little coconut oil (I used about a teaspoon of melted coconut oil total), it just makes them glisten, and keeps them from drying out.
Slide them in that oven, and bake them until heated through, slightly browned. This is where it varies in time for baking. Each oven is different, and mine especially is a bitch (thanks apartment), so even at the same temperature, mine will vary. The first time I did it, they took about 7 minutes. The second time, they were ready at 5 minutes. So I would advise checking them after about 4-5 minutes to make sure they don't burn, but don't let them stay in for -longer than 7-8 minutes.
Once warmed, your kitchen will smell incredible! These bad boys are gooey, creamy, tart, sweet, and incredibly fragrant. Even though they are what I like to call "healthy decadent" so you have to watch yourself, they are a welcome treat.
Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with Cinnamon Pecans
A very simple appetizer that makes quick use of the nutritional powerhouse that are dates. The toasted pecans and cinnamon compliment the natural sweet caramel-like date, and balance the tart goat cheese. Sticky, cheesy, and gooey, these are sure to please everyone!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 7-8 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: 12 dates
Calories per serving: 209
- 12 large dates (I use medjool)
- 3 ounces goat cheese (room temperature is easier to scoop)
- 1/4 cup unsalted pecans (12 pecans)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil (olive oil can be substituted)
- Pinch of salt optional
- Let goat cheese soften so it is easier to fill the dates, not detrimental to the recipe, but it will help.
- Pit the dates by gently slicing halfway down into the date and remove the pit. Make sure the date is still in tact as you
- are going to fill them and if you cut too far down, they will be completely split. Which would suck. I included a picture in
- the post for you to view what I mean.
- Toast pecans quickly (about 2 minutes) until fragrant and lightly browned in a pan with a pinch of salt (optional but
- balances the unsalted pecans).
- Toss pecans and cinnamon together, set aside.
- Take a teaspoon of goat cheese and gently stuff the dates.
- Top each date with a cinnamon pecan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes until warm and slightly browned on the bottom.
- Using a spatula, transfer from a pan to a plate immediately.
- Stuff, your face, and try to not get addicted! (Good luck.)