Maple Pecan Cheese Stuffed Dates

guest post by Living the Gourmet

With the winter snows now gone, and our collective hibernation now finally at its long awaited end, spring is in full swing.  While Easter may be the first ‘big holiday’ of the season, it’s hardly the only the event worth planning for.  As the warmer, more pleasant weather begins a season full of impromptu gatherings, outdoor festivities, and for my own family, a long line of birthdays.

While main courses and desserts receive a lot of attention, ‘social food’ or ‘greeting plates’ should hardly be ignored. After all, it’s during appetizers and the first round of drinks that the proverbial ‘ice’ is broken, even if all the literal ice has already melted.

However, the simple cutting boards of cheese and crackers can grow weary, and generally either don’t last very long, or lose your guests’ interest before they’ve even had the opportunity to sample your fine Asiago.  Similarly, while elegant, crusty bread and infused oil are all too familiar.  No, you need something that will up the ante, something that will give your guests pause, and make them realize that you have put almost as much effort into the greeting plates as is into your expertly crafted entrée.

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If I may be so bold, here is one such appetizer that is sure to catch your guests’ attention – bacon wrapped dates.  Served warm, the crisped bacon exterior greets the palate with familiar salty overtures of cured meat, before giving way to the soft texture of the date and a brief burst of subtle sweetness. Cream cheese, sweetened with maple syrup, reinforces the flavors and texture of the exterior date, while pecans ground the experience in earthy notes, and return soft salt tones to the mouth.

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Weather hosting a bar-b-cue, an outdoor luncheon, or a relaxed dinner party, these bacon rolled dates are a bite sized treat that everyone is certain to love.

Maple & Pecan Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon

Ingredients:

1 dozen pitted dates
¾ cup cream cheese
¼ cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons maple syrup
5-6 slices of bacon – sliced into thirds

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, pecans and maple syrup. Set aside.

3. Carefully slice the back the each date. Stuff about ½ - 1 teaspoon of cheese filling and wrap with bacon. Place stuffed dates on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes, until the cheese and bacon is golden.

4. Plate, serve and enjoy!

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