I love fancy-shmancy finger foods, the kind that seemingly take hours to make or require all kinds of crazy ingredients. That isn't the case for these fun and sophisticated treats: "bacon" and "cheese" stuffed dates can actually be made vegan, and they can actually be delicious. Just a few ingredients easily and quickly puts this recipe on the must-bring-to-the-next-party list.
Okay in all seriousness, this might be some of the best food I've ever tasted. The flavors are so overwhelming: the salty cheese, the pungent garlic and onions, the smoky bacon, the sugary dates. I think what makes a successful recipe is when you have crazy combinations like this, with all of the different flavors and textures hitting you at once.
Each bite of date is surprisingly rich and decadent. The dates are right on the borderline of being sickeningly sweet, but the saltiness of the cheese cuts the sugar perfectly. Stuff your dates to the gills with the bacon-cheese mixture, because they'll need it. A sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper would finish these off nicely.
You only need a couple of these babies for the most decadent appetizer ever. But be careful: when paired with a strong beer or wine, you might not be able to stop eating them. Seriously, bring a batch of these to your next wine and cheese party, and watch them disappear (and of course, no one will know their secret!).
Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Dates
(adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)
Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, Dijon mustard, garlic, and bacon bits. Fold in green onions. Season to taste with pepper. Using a sharp knife, make a lengthwise slit in each date. Spread open slightly and remove pits. Fill each date with about a tablespoon of cheese mixture. Place dates filling side up on a baking sheet. Bake, uncovered in the preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm. Makes 12 pieces.
Nutritional data (per piece): Calories 93, Fat 2g, Saturated Fat 1g, Sodium 53mg, Carbs 19g, Fiber 2g, Protein 1g.