Skip to content

Savory and Sweet Holiday Treats

December 6, 2010

Happy holidays.  I’ve been enjoying the hell out of Chanukah.  It may be too late for me to work in grilled haloumi cheese, but thanks to the comment from the Rabbi I’m thrilled to add yet another delicious holiday food.

My winter solstice holiday is almost over, but I thought I would give you a status report.

First night: Potato latkes at home
Second night: Fried fish in seaweed flour at ALA Shanghai
Third night: Potato latkes at temple
Fourth night: Jelly donuts from Bella Napoli
Fifth night: Latkes three ways and sufganiyot with friends

Despite how easy the blender latkes were to execute, I don’t think I’ll be frying up any more this year.  But I did manage to buy some frozen latkes to bake off in an emergency.  Tonight may be one such occasion.

Chanukah is almost over, but the drumbeat of Christmas is just getting louder and louder.  The malls are filled, and people are starting to look for party food recipes.  When I saw this tweet I knew it was time to write up this wonderful, easy and delicious treat.

I learned it from Chef Cory, and it’s yours today, thanks to his generosity.
But first let’s talk about contrasts.

Contrasts are delicious.  Sweet, creamy chocolate covering salty, crunchy pretzels.  A sweet and yeasty bun filled with crusty, charred beef topped with a cool, juicy tomato, a bracing bite of raw onion, and the briny acidity of a pickle slice.

These kinds of contrasts are everywhere, in almost all of our favorite foods, both high and low.  Hot fudge sundaes, pancakes and bacon, Carolina-style pulled pork sandwiches, pepperoni pizza, tuna tartare with raw quail egg on toast points.  Once I had squab topped with a foie gras mousse on which rested a thin sliver of translucent, crispy bacon.  Granted, what stood out most from this dish was the contrast of textures.  But that totally counts.

I could go on, but I think you get it.

So here is what I have for you.  It’s a contrast of smoky/meaty/salty with rich/creamy and sweet/dense/chewy.  It takes virtually no skill to produce and only requires three ingredients.  I feel guilty even calling it a recipe.

Here is what you need:

A mess of Medjool dates (not all dates are created equal, substitutions are discouraged)
A tub of mascarpone cheese

Here is what you do:

Cut the bacon into lardons.  That’s fancy-pants talk for slicing it crosswise into ¼ inch strips.  Then put those bad boys in a pan and fry them till they are crispy.  Reserve the rendered fat for later use with eggs, because eggs cooked gently in bacon fat are only like the best thing ever.

When the bacon is done, drain it on some paper towels and put it aside until you are ready to assemble.

Slice the dates in half, and remove the pit.  Artfully arrange the dates on a serving platter, cut side up.  Spoon about one-half tablespoon of mascarpone onto the cut side of the date.  The exact quantity really depends on the size of the date.  You are looking for a generous mound in proportion to the date half below.

Top each piece with two crisscrossing pieces of bacon.

Then try to hold off on eating the whole platter until your guests arrive.  Seriously, these are delicious and addicting.  Medjool dates are the sweetest of their kind.  But the richness of the mascarpone cuts this sweetness, and adds a refreshing and surprising lightness to the morsel.  And all of this rich, chewy, creamy, unctuousness is checked by the salty, crunchy, meaty smoke from the bacon.

Plus those two little crimson sticks of fried pork belly just look gorgeous perched upon their white pillowy bed of mascarpone.

This is inspired simplicity. And it goes great with a glass of sparkling wine.

If you make it and you love it (which you will), all I ask is that you let Chef Cory know how awesome he is.  Not that he needs to be told.  But a little positive feedback never hurts.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    December 6, 2010 11:24 am

    Man, except for your last dish, I’d be glycemic-spiking into a hypoglycemic coma!

  2. December 6, 2010 5:15 pm



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: