If you find yourself in need of the perfect appetizer to prepare and bring to a potluck, tapas night, or buffet table, then rest assured that you’ll be impressing whoever grabs a toothpick from your serving dish thanks to this delicious recipe for cider-glazed, bacon-wrapped dates from Smittenkitchen.
The masterstroke of concocting the pitch-perfect appetizer is an art form in and of itself because you want to entice those surveying your initial offering of food for the evening if you’re also preparing the entree that is. Because if that’s the case, then you want to immediately grab their attention and get their mind wandering, thinking about the flavors just around the corner when the oven chimes. Alternatively, if this appetizer is your only dish at a community dinner, then it needs to be substantial enough to not only speak for itself but also be addictingly tasty in such a way that you return from a walk around the room to an empty serving dish.
So, no matter the aim, this dish is perfect, as it blends crispy bacon with a cider glaze that accentuates the hardened, but the not-too-crunchy texture of the meat with the bitter flavor of apple cider vinegar, caramelized sugars, and (of course) the naturally chewy and salty dates. Be prepared to commit this recipe to memory, as the empty serving platter you’re left with will almost assuredly be accompanied by your guests asking “so how do you make the glaze?”
- 12 ounces of bacon (thinner strips preferred)
- 6 ounces of dates (pitted)
- 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar
- 1 ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- A few pinches of sea salt
- A few pinches of red pepper flakes
- Begin by heating your oven to 425°F and divide each strip of bacon into two segments.
- Then, wrap one half-strip of bacon around each of your dates and secure them tightly with a toothpick. Line a baking sheet with tin foil (alternatively use a roasting dish), and arrange your bacon-wrapped dates atop it while the oven preheats.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine together with your maple syrup (or alternative sweetener), apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes with a whisk or spoon.
- Next is the glazing of your dates. For this, you can lightly brush each bacon-wrapped date with your glaze, spoon the glaze over each date in the foil-lined tray, or truly cover each date by rolling each piece of bacon-wrapped fruit in the cider glaze until it is completely coated. No matter your method of coating, sprinkle each with flaky sea salt.
- After your oven is hot and ready, roast the dates for a minimum of 15 minutes and an excess of 35 minutes. Keep a watchful eye, as the goal is for the outlying bacon to have sizzling, crisp brown coloration. The timing isn’t precise as it depends on your brand of pork product and the general thickness of your strips, which is why thin is ideal.
- While it’s roasting and you’re hearing popping and sizzling sounds, be sure to check the dates, as this will be somewhere around the early 15-minute mark, and then return every 5 minutes afterward until the color and crispness of the bacon are perfected.
- If you have any extra glaze leftover, you can infuse the caramelized sugar flavor by brushing that excess atop the dates during the second half of their roasting time.
- Once they’re brought to your crisp, brown coloration, remove them from the oven, letting them cool slightly. Sprinkle a couple of pinches of additional sea salt and red pepper flakes atop them, and serve them up warm!
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