Friday, January 15, 2016

Date and Walnut Bites

They made these on The Chew last week.  Carla Hall went to all the trouble to make them with vegan cream cheese, then put honey in the mix.  That instantly renders them non-vegan.  You could substitute agave or maple syrup.  She did mention that in the next segment, but there were already comments.

You'll note that I put these under both desserts and appetizers.  There's often one sweet hors d'oeuvre at a party.  They also work at a dessert buffet or tea.  You can pass these off at Superbowl by having bacon-wrapped dates on the next plate.

I decided to make a very small batch of three dates cut in half, just enough for a snack and a photo.  The recipe really should be made with Medjool dates, but there weren't any pitted ones at the market and I usually snack on Deglet Noors.  The Medjools are larger and more moist.

I had never heard of soaking walnuts, but it's a great idea.  They don't get soggy, just easier to chew.  And I looked for vegan cream cheese.  It's a soy-based whip much like the fake mayo I use.  Despite the lower calorie and fat counts, I passed.

The only thing that concerned me about the original recipe was the number of ingredients in a single bite.  I was right.  There's just too much going on.  I'm reducing the complexity a bit so you can actually taste everything in it.

12 Medjool or about 20 Deglet dates, pitted
24/40 walnut halves
1 C cream cheese, softened
1 Tb honey, maple syrup, or agave

1.  An hour before assembly, soak walnuts in warm water to cover and sprinkle with a touch of salt.  Drain when ready to begin.

2.  Slice the dates in half and arrange open-faced on a platter.  In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese and sweetener until combined.  If still too stiff, beat in water a teaspoon at a time.  Place in a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip.  I don't recommend subbing a plastic zip bag.  Cream cheese is sturdy and will probably break it.  I wasn't sure the pastry bag would hold.
3.  Gently pipe a line of cream cheese into the date cavity to fill.  Repeat until all the dates are filled and you run out of cheese.  Top each half with a drained walnut and serve at room temperature.  Do store in the fridge if making ahead.

Serves at least 12

Difficulty rating  :)

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