Thursday, May 2, 2013

Algerian Stuffed Dates

The best description I've ever heard for dates is "nature's candy." Although sold in the same grocery store section as dried fruits, the packaged dates you buy are actually the fresh version, just naturally sweet and condensed like dried fruit. If you really want to make them into candy, try this recipe. I have double confirmation from Odense that their marzipan is made with beet sugar, making it a good choice for vegans.

  • 24 Medjool dates*
  • 2 drops green food coloring**
  • 2/3 cup marzipan
  • 2 teaspoons vegan powdered sugar
1. Cut a slit down the center of each date lengthwise, cutting into but not all the way through each date.

Note: Remove the pits if yours aren't sold already pitted - they'll slip right out.

2. Sprinkle the drops of food coloring over the marzipan and knead until the color is incorporated.

3. Divide the marzipan mixture evenly among the dates, pressing into the slits.

4. Dust with the powdered sugar before serving.

Stuffed dates such as these are popular in North Africa, so serve after a similarly North African-themed dinner for a fun evening. A couscous tagine would be a good option.

*Medjool dates are larger, plumper, and chewier than other varieties that may be available at your grocery store (such as deglet), so do be sure to seek them out. Their sweetness pairs perfectly with the almond paste.

**Look for an all-natural food coloring, rather than one with chemical coloring. Seelect makes a green dye out of 100% vegetable and plant extracts, which is certified vegan, kosher, and gluten-free. The dye will stain your hands slightly as you work with the marzipan, but it's nothing a little soap and water can't fix.

Nutrition Info:
24 servings (1 stuffed date), Calories 50

Tasting Notes:
More so than a dessert, these can really only properly be called a confection - like something from behind one of those perfect glass counters at an Indian sweets shop, one bite of pure decadence. The combination of date and almond is wonderful. They're the perfect kind of sweet, too, since you really only want to eat 1 or 2, and then reach perfect satiation. Minus one point only because this much sugar nearly makes my teeth ache!