I am not, as my family maintains, a prejudiced man. I simply have guiding principles. One of them is not to ever eat certain foods. I have a Top 10 list of the foods I will not touch, let alone allow to enter my body. There are about 30 items on the Top 10 list. Yes, it’s crowded there, but I have very rigorous standards.
From time to time, I will reconsider. Sometimes there is a recipe with such appeal that I think one of my Top 10, or Top 30 or whatever, might be capable of salvation.
I don’t like dates. I never have. If I eat sticky food, I want immediately to take a shower. It’s just my way. And God knows that if you get within five feet of a date, some part of it is going to collect on your fingertips.
I am addicted to chocolate. I like jalapeno. I adore bacon. So I saw this recipe on The Tasting Table, a wonderful website, and I thought if they can do dates, so can I.
It turns out, this is a perfectly sumptuous recipe. The contrasting flavors come in layers that just confuse you a bit. The whole date flavor is just lost amidst the bacon, chocolate and jalapeno. Oh the date is there, because there is undoubted sweetness on the tongue. But the chocolate kicks in and then jalapeno, and you are left asking yourself, “What did I just eat? And can I have another?”
This appetizer has substance so plan on only 3 or 4 per person. A substantial cocktail is suggested to accompany the strong flavors of this enormous nosh.
Devils on Horseback
Yield: 8 servings
- 12 strips of bacon, halved crosswise
- 24 dates, pitted
- 6 squares of bittersweet baker’s chocolate, broken into shards
- Fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt
- 12 marcona almost, halved
- ½ jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced into ¼-inch pieces
Preheat the oven to 300F. Arrange the bacon on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for 15 seconds., the remove and let cool. Turn the oven up to 400F.
Stuff each date with a piece of chocolate, a few grains of fleur de sel, half a macron almond and a piece of jalapeño. Wrap each date with a strip of bacon and place on a baking sheet, seam side down.
Bake for 5 t0 7 minutes or until the bacon on is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Changes and Considerations:
Truthfully, Suzen and I did not get the 15 seconds bit for warming the bacon. Just let the bacon come to room temperature before assembly. You do have to ponder the thickness of bacon; we used some very thick bacon from Fleishers, our Kingston butcher. We needed to cook for about 20 minutes. That thickness may also mean you want to use toothpicks to secure each rollup and ensure they do not unwind during cooking.
Finally, if you do like things sweet, then before you place them in the oven, top each one with a teaspoon of dark brown sugar. It makes a big difference. Very sweet. Very sticky. After I ate them, I needed a shower. I didn’t mind at all.