I love dates so much that during Ramadan, I have a one date rule. Without limits, who knows how many I’ll gobble. Often, I’ll see a tray at iftar (the meal for breaking fast), and have uncontrollable, avaricious thoughts. Let me grab a handful, no one will notice. How about just one more? Greed! Gluttony! That’s not the meaning of Christmas—according to most holiday specials on family TV shows—nor Ramadan.
Eating just one (err, sometimes two), biting into a sweet, fleshy date always reminds of the treat my grandparents brought back from Saudi Arabia after umrah in ’94. Midday, when suppose to be napping, I’d beg my mom to open another small square of a sticky date fudge with cashews wrapped in cellophane. A departure from strawberry fruit roll-ups and dusty cheese puffs, this is my earliest memory of savoring a snack; I ate these treats with intrigue. I’d cuddle with Ammu in bed and we’d share like most mothers share with their children: 10% hers, 90% mine. (I can’t remember if we shared with anyone else, and I’m starting to feel guilty all over again. I’m sorry!) Ammu and her family use to eat them when, she was 10, her family lived in Baghdad while my grandfather taught as a visiting professor. They enjoyed them so much that when they returned to Dhaka, they brought back a huge box to divide among all their cousins, aunts and uncles. As it turns out, her grandmother, enlisted to distribute to the relatives, liked them so much that she also “forgot” to share with everyone else. It’s not just me!
Till this day, I have no idea what they’re called, how to ask for them or how to find them. Do you have a childhood treat that still makes you salivate?
Goat Cheese & Walnut Stuffed Dates
Stuffed dates This recipes is inspired by The Novice Chef. I used goat cheese brie, but any goat cheese will work. If you only have cinnamon and no nutmeg, use 1/2 cinnamon. You can drizzle some honey on top. The glaze looks divine, but I like to just mix into the stuffing; that way it’s less messy. I also use less honey, because the Medjool dates already very sweet. You can make them up to 8 hours ahead of time, and leave in the fridge covered. Serve at room temperature.
16 Medjool Dates
3 oz, goat cheese, softened
1 tablespoon of honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
16 whole walnuts to garnish
Sea salt to garnish
1. In a small bowl, stir together goat cheese, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and chopped walnuts. Set aside.
2. Take dates, and cut slit vertically down the center of the longer side, without cutting in half. Remove pit.
3. Butterfly open dates, and spoon in a teaspoon of prepared cheese stuffing in each.
4. Garnish with a whole walnut on the top and sprinkle with sea salt