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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds

Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds
In my family, we have a couple of favorite holiday appetizers and nibbles. Okay, maybe more than a couple, but let's just go with it. Those appetizers are both wrapped in bacon. I wonder why everybody loves them so?

The first are bacon-wrapped water chestnuts. Looking back over the last 5-1/2 years of recipes that I've shares here, I'm dumbfounded that I have never shared them before. The recipe is simple, and it's one of the longest-running recipes in my family. Generations upon generations have been clamoring around the oven for them to finish cooking during family holiday get togethers. Mental note - share them SOON.

The other bacon-wrapped nibble is one that I started making 12 years ago, give or take. They don't have the longevity of the water chestnuts (yet), but check back with me in 50 years. Again, they're so simple to make, and even simpler to pop in  your mouth.

I think a lot of people make them in one form or another. For example, I found them in the cookbook that we're giving away this week for #BaconMonth, Bacon 24/Seven. They're basically the same as the ones I make. The one in the book didn't include the smoked almonds that I add to mine; they're great for both flavor and texture contrast. They wrap in a half slice of bacon, I go with whole, thin, and parcooked.
Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds and Orange-Balsamic Reduction
Theirs did include something that I just had to try, though - a reduction made from Balsamic vinegar and a freshly squeezed orange. It was sweet and tangy and rich, and it made a tasty addition to one of my favorite appetizers. I'm not sure that I'll make it every time I make bacon-wrapped dates, but at least I have it in my back pocket if the mood strikes!

So, stuffed inside a sweet and sticky date is a crunchy, salty smoked almond and creamy pungent blue cheese. It's then wrapped tightly in a robe of bacon and baked until chewy and lightly crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. See why they're a favorite?

Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds (and Orange-Balsamic Reduction)
Sweet dates stuffed with creamy blue cheese and smoked almonds, then wrapped in bacon. Finish them off with a drizzle of orange-balsamic reduction.
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Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Keywords: bake appetizer soy-free bacon blue cheese dates almonds

Ingredients (~30 pieces)
  • 8 ounces pitted dates (about 30 dates)
  • ~2 ounces creamy Danish Blue Cheese
  • 30 smoked almonds
  • 30 slices parcooked thin-cut bacon
for the Orange-Balsamic Reduction (optional):
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Use a thin, sharp paring knife to make (or open) a slit down the side of each date. Stuff each date with a smoked almond, then with enough blue cheese to fill.

Wrap each stuffed date with one slice of the thin, parcooked bacon. Line the stuffed and wrapped dates up on your prepared baking sheet.
stuffing and wrapping the dates
Slice into oven and bake for about 8 minutes, turning the dates halfway through, or until the bacon is cooked all the way and little pockets of blue cheese are oozing from some of the edges.

If you want to serve the dates with the reduction, while the dates are baking, combine the orange juice, zest, and vinegar in a small saucepan over high heat. Lower heat to a simmer and let cook until the mixture has reduced to a thick and syrupy glaze, 10 minutes or so. Strain the reduction into a serving bowl.

Serve the dates with some of the reduction drizzled over them (or on the side), if using.

I like using very thinly sliced bacon that has been parcooked until almost done when wrapping these. They only cook for 5 minutes, so this assures that you don't have any uncooked, floppy bacon before all of the cheese oozes out. Plus, you don't have to use a toothpick to secure the bacon, as the thin slice sticks to itself and forms a nice protective blanket.
Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds
This post is part of Bacon Month 2014! As part of the month-long bacon fun, we will be giving away one different bacon-centric cookbook per week during the month of August. You can enter the current giveaway at the bottom of this post. You can see all of the books we're giving away this month, see a list of participating bloggers, and also enter whichever giveaway is currently running by clicking over to my Bacon Month Announcement post at any time.

Keep up with the bacon goodness by following Bacon Month with the #baconmonth and #putsomepiginit hashtags, and find even more bacon recipes and inspiration on our I Heart Bacon Pinterest board! Plus, you'll find a running tab of this month's bacon posts from every participant at the end of every bacon month post!