Friday, June 1, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Cream Cheese & Roasted Garlic

It should come as no surprise that anything wrapped in bacon is a huge crowd pleaser. I've made plenty of other bacon wrapped goodies and they're always a big hit. But these bacon wrapped dates are in a league of their own. The sweetness from the dates with the saltiness of the bacon is just the beginning. When you add the creaminess from the cheese along with the slightly pungent (yet mellow) roasted garlic...it's game over. All the other hors d'oeuvres might as well pack up and go home. I think I actually let out an audible gasp when I tried the first one. Then I watched my friends. One by one they popped them in their mouths and their eyes widened. When I heard several oh my god's being uttered, that confirmed it...these kick ass.

Side note #1: Special thanks to Jamie & Ellie Stanek for stuffing and wrapping these bad boys. They came over a little early (and I was running way behind). So they happily went to work for me and did a great job. They rock (almost as much as these bacon wrapped dates)!

Side note #2: I'm taking a break from the blog for the next few weeks (I'm working on a special project and just won't have any spare time). I recommend you make these while I'm busy and let me know what you think. (If you're having a party, you will want to double or triple the recipe. Trust me.)


BACON WRAPPED DATES STUFFED WITH
CREAM CHEESE AND ROASTED GARLIC
Yield: 36

36 pitted California dates (about 8 oz.)
6 oz. cream cheese (I used neufchatel)
36 roasted garlic cloves (2-3 heads)
12 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thirds


1.      Preheat the broiler. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2.      Slice each date down the side and stuff with roughly 1 teaspoon cream cheese and 1 garlic clove (or 1/2 clove if very large).
3.      Wrap 1 piece of bacon around each date and arrange dates seam down (and 1 inch apart) on baking sheet.
4.      Bake for 6-8 minutes (until bacon begins to crisp). Using tongs, carefully turn dates over and bake until bacon is crisp on both sides, about 6-8 minutes more (cooking time depends on thickness of your bacon).
5.      Drain on paper towels.
6.      Insert a toothpick into each date. Serve hot (but not piping hot, otherwise the cheese is like hot lava). 

I've seen so many versions of this recipe (using many different cheeses), that I couldn't possibly credit any one person with creating it. The only original twist I put on it was the addition of roasted garlic. And even though I thought of that all by myself, I wouldn't be shocked if someone else out there already did too (if you see a previously published version, feel free to let me know).
raw garlic drizzled with olive oil

To roast garlic: Preheat oven to 375° F.  Slice the top off each garlic
head (so you can see just a little of each clove). Place in a small baking
dish (or on a piece of aluminum foil) and drizzle with enough olive oil to
coat all the cloves. Wrap completely with aluminum foil. Bake for about
45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cloves are brown on the edges and
the garlic is soft. Cool and squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves.
roasted garlic

The roasted cloves pop out very easily when squeezed
from the bottom (I forgot to take a photo of that).
stuffing and wrapping
(brought to you by Jamie & Ellie Stanek)

You can just open the dates from the side and
stuff them that way. It's a little messy, but it works.
wrapped in bacon
broiled

I know, it looks like a hot mess, but just wait until you try one.

You can stick them with toothpicks before broiling,
but the toothpicks might get a little scorched. We put
toothpicks in ours after they were broiled.
bacon wrapped dates stuffed with cream cheese & roasted garlic
.

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