These have long been one of my “go to” apps. I love anything bacon, and of course it’s a natural pairing with blue cheeses. But what makes these little babies so tremendous is the extra sweetness and gooeyness that comes from dried dates!
The problem with most version of bacon-wrapped dates is this: the bacon doesn’t get crisp and it ends up being a limp soggy blanket around the date. I despise undercooked bacon, and it’s really bad when you are hoping for that crisp contrast to soft cheese and soft date. I’ve made a version with prosciutto before, expecting the thinness of the meat to do what I was hoping it to do, while also lending an extra “upscale” feeling to the app. But, what happened is that 1) the prosciutto tended to shred and I couldn’t capture it well with only one toothpick and 2) the prosciutto scorched before the date was sufficiently hot and the cheese melted, and 30 there just wasn’t enough porky/bacony flavor from the prosciutto. So, three strikes and you’re out!
So, what I decided to do then is give the bacon a head-start on the cooking process. Rendering the fat that keeps it undercooked was what I needed to do, but cooking it in a pan wouldn’t give me enough control; some of the bacon was going to cook faster than others and I wanted it to remain soft and supple so I could easily wrap the date without tearing the bacon — or having it shrink up so small that it wouldn’t fit around the date.
The solution was, first, to make sure I was using regular “classic” cut bacon, not thick cut. Second, I sandwiched the cut bacon slices on a plate between sheets of paper towel and then microwaved the bacon at 50% power, one minute at a time until the bacon reached a point where much of the fat was rendered but it was still soft.
Next, the dates. While there are several kinds of dried dates readily available on the market, I prefer the larger Medjool variety. Frequently, they come pre-pitted, but if not, just cut a slit in the flesh, cutting lengthwise leaving the ends intact, and remove the pit and discard.
Now, take your favorite blue cheese — Gorgonzola is good, so are many other kinds like Danablue, cheeses by Rogue Creamery, Maytag etc. — and, using a small spoon or even a teaspoon measuring spoon, stuff the inside of the date with the cheese. Close the opened slit of date with your fingers once you’ve stuffed the date.
Finally it’s bacon time! Take your 1/2 slice of bacon and wrap the date along it’s short axis, perpendicular to the slit you made, encasing the date and the cheese. Secure the bacon ends together with a toothpick — you may even be overlapping the bacon depending on the size of the date.
You’ll finish the dates in the broiler per the instructions in the recipe but I can’t caution you enough to KEEP AN EYE ON THEM while they are broiling. They are notorious for being “not quite ready” one second and scorched the next.
Speaking of scorch…allow them to cool a bit once you’ve taken them out of the oven before you bite into them. That hot bacon, hot sugary date and then the melted hot cheese will do some damage to your mouth if you aren’t just a tad patient.
I hope you enjoy these tasty morsels as much as we do. They go great with a glass of wine…or even Champagne. They make any occasion festive and they only take minutes to prepare them the way I show you. I do mention that the recipe makes 8 servings, but that’s only if you limit yourself. They taste so good you can probably only have enough to share with a special someone, if you get my drift!
Bacon Wrapped Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates
- 1/2 lb regular sliced bacon
- 1/2 lb dates preferably Medjool
- 4 oz blue cheese
- Cut bacon slices in 1/2 and place on a microwave-safe plate lined with paper towel. Place the bacon between paper towel sheets and microwave a minute at a time at 50% power, until bacon is softened an much of the bacon fat has been rendered into the paper towel. Remove bacon from microwave and set aside
- Meanwhile, cut a slit lengthwise most of the way through the date and remove pit. You want to create a pocket that you will fill with blue cheese.
- Using a small spoon, stuff chunks of blue cheese into date cavity. Be sure not to over-stuff because you will want to pinch the cut edges of the date closed again after stuffing.
- Take a piece of the rendered bacon and wrap it horizontally (around the short side) around the date. Secure bacon with a toothpick and place on a cookie sheet, ideally fitted with a baking tray, if you have it.
- Repeat with remaining dates and bacon pieces.
- Heat the oven on broil — low broil setting if your oven has it. If you only have high or "regular" broil settings, you will want to keep a close eye on the dates so they don't burn.
- Broil dates 4-6" from the heat element (depending on how hot your broiler is…low broil vs. high), checking constantly. When the bacon on the first side of the date begins to look crispy, turn dates over and broil the other side to desired crispness. Again, keep a constant eye on the dates when they are cooking because they will scorch quickly if you aren't paying attention.
- Remove dates from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and serve warm.