I still have dates left from Christmas cookie-baking, so when this recipe popped up, it seemed perfect as a tasty way to use them up. The flavor combination is very satisfying, especially with the added twist of five-spice powder on the pecans. Serve them at your next party and watch them disappear!
Note: This recipe makes more pecans than stuffed dates; store extra pecans in an airtight container and they will keep for about a week. Thanks to GingerRoot at Food52.
Makes 24 stuffed dates (easily doubled)
for the candied pecans:
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
- 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (depending on heat preference)
- Scant 1/4 cup light agave or honey
- 1 cup pecan halves
- pinches sea salt
for the dates:
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon orange or tangerine zest
- 1/2 cup soft goat cheese, set in a bowl at room temperature to soften a bit
- 24 Medjool dates, pitted by making a slit down the center and removing the pit, keeping the date as intact as possible
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine spices in a small bowl and stir to mix.
Pour agave into small metal bowl or pie pan. Set bowl or pan over saucepan with small amount of boiling water for about a minute. This will make the agave easier to work with. Remove bowl or pan from heat.
Add pecans to agave and toss to coat.
Add spices to pecans and toss to coat.
Spread pecans on prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
Cook in the oven for 10 minutes, checking and stirring (agave should be bubbling) once or twice with a wooden spoon. Pecans should be fragrant and golden brown. Be careful not to burn the pecans.
Remove pan from oven. As they cool, sprinkle pecans with a pinch of sea salt. Slowly begin separate the pecans from the parchment. If the pecans seem sticky, let them cool a little longer. When finished they should have a hard shell and a nice crunch.
Mix thyme and orange zest into softened goat cheese, stirring to combine evenly.
Using a sharp knife, make a slit in the top of each date and carefully remove the pit. Stuff dates with about 1/2 teaspoon of goat cheese, give or take some to fill the date.
Top each stuffed date with a candied pecan. Arrange on serving platter.