I would never make it as a food blogger, even though I love to cook for multiple reasons. First, when I’m in the crazy cooking mood, I usually don’t want to stop and grab my camera, tripod and all the whatnots needed to take a decent photo. Second, we have insufficient lighting in the kitchen, so the white balance in the photos is totally off if you don’t use a flash. And everyone knows that you NEVER use a flash on food. It exposes all the calories.
However, I would be cruel to keep from you the easiest and most impressive recipe that I’ve ever concocted. It’s even easier than Bacon-wrapped dates (which has the entire recipe right in the name) because you don’t have to cook anything. In fact, you could literally make this without a kitchen, as long as you had a sharp knife and a spoon. Similar to cutting meth, actually.
If you want to impress your relatives and friends with your fanciness, try these appetizers. They’re sweet, they’re salty, they have a punch of umami and a little kick of heat. They’re vegetarian, gluten-free, wheat-free and even could be nut-free if you wanted. And weirdly, they’re not even terribly unhealthy, as goat cheese has way less fat than cream cheese, plus it is loaded with protein.
Ready? Let’s get started. First decide whether you want to make the dates fast or if you want to have fewer dirty dishes.
- 24 Pitted dates
- 4 ounces of plain chevre
- 24 roasted almonds, pecans, pistachios or anything crunchy that you adore
- Flavor component (Chipolte salt, Vulcan salt, Frank’s Red Hot, wasabi, whatever)
Faster way: Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment, kitchen sheers, piping bag
Cleaner way: Sharp knife, smallish spoon
First, slice into dates.
Faster Way: If you’re using the kitchen sheers, this is pretty easy to do, as you’ll be using the holes left by the automated date pitting mechanism to guide you.
Cleaner Way: If you’re using the point of your sharp knife, just be careful not to slice into the bottom half of the date. You’ll create a little pocket for the goat cheese-y goodness.
Then, fill the dates with the chevre.
Faster Way : Throw the chevre into the stand mixer and whip some air into it. This should take at least a few minutes on high, and you’ll have to scrape down the bowl a few times, but it makes piping the chevre into the dates much easier. If you’re using a liquid flavor component, something like wasabi paste or Sriracha sauce, mix that into the chevre now. If you’ve got a powder based flavor component, then you can decide whether you want to incorporate it into the chevre at this stage OR you can hold off and sprinkle it later. Once the chevre has increased by at least 50% in volume, spoon it into your pastry bag and then pipe it into the sliced dates. I recommend this method if you’re making more than two dozen little nibbles, because it goes really really fast.
Cleaner Way: Using the spoon, nudge a teaspoon or so of the chevre into each date. It might not look beautiful but that’s ok, because it will be super delicious. I found that it works better if the chevre is REALLY cold so that it stays more or less solid as you’re doing this. You can kind of use your fingers to mold it into a dome if you want too.
Is the time getting short? Then stop. These dates are good to go and I promise you they’re delicious just as they are. But if you want to take it the next step, kick it up.
Next, flavor it up. I used Vulcan Salt from The Spice House, which is somewhat like a spicy vinegary flavor, akin to a Louisiana hot sauce or perhaps a buffalo wing sauce. You could really use whatever you wanted, though to give it a kick. Sprinkle your desired flavor component onto the top of the goat cheese. If you choose something colorful, you’ll have the added benefit of making it very pretty too.
Once again, if you’re tired of dealing with these dates, stop. They’re even more delicious. You’re good. But if you want to add just another notch, to bring in a texture component that will really make the juxtaposition of that meaty date and the silky chevre shine, there’s one more thing you can do (it takes about 40 seconds.)
Stick your almond or other nut into the top of the chevre. See, I told you it wouldn’t take very long. Organize on a pretty plate and that’s that. You’ll have people chasing you down at parties, begging you to reveal the recipe, and I guarantee they’ll be gone before you know it.