STUFFED DATES (With marzipan or nougat)

Believe it or not but some people can do without dessert and I am one of them. This could be a reflection of the way I was bought up –as an Italian child there was always fresh fruit after any meal and very special desserts were saved for special occasions. I think that they were appreciated more because of this.

I generally prefer to eat savoury food. However I do like something small and sweet at the end of a meal, especially if I have been drinking.

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I had some left over marzipan in the fridge, some left over torrone (nougat) and I saw some fresh, Medjool dates and hence this recipe for the stuffed dates. Easy to make too.

I knew that orange flower water and/or cinnamon are traditionally included in the marzipan mixture in Morocco where stuffed dates are popular (I have eaten them in Tunis and Turkey as well). My marzipan was left over from making a cassata so I added more almond meal and some orange flower water to the mixture, and presto the stuffing was ready. Grated peel from 1 orange can also enhance the flavour. In these other countries the marzipan is often coloured but I prefer natural colours and flavours. This time I did not use cinnamon, but maybe next time.

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There were four of us and I thought that twelve dates would be enough. Six were stuffed with almond paste and I stuffed the other six with a piece of nougat/ torrone (no instructions needed – it is self explanatory).

INGREDIENTS
blanched almonds to decorate.
fresh Medjool dates
marzipan

This amount of marzipan will easily stuff 24 dates. Either halve the ingredients or store the left over marzipan in the fridge till next time. Wrap it in plastic film and it will keep for a couple of weeks.

To make marzipan:
1 cup of ground almonds (blanched) and 1 cups of pure icing sugar combined with ¼ cup of caster sugar – this adds the crunchy texture that compliments the ground almonds.
Mix the sugars and almond meal with fingers and add 1 tablespoon of orange water slowly. If the mixture is too wet add more almonds. Knead it and if it needs more water add a little tap water to make the mixture pliable.

PROCESSES
Cut each date vertically on one side and remove the stone.
Make small cylinders of almond paste the same length as the dates and place one inside each date. Squeeze the sides of each date around the paste and leave some exposed.
Decorate each with a blanched almond (or walnut or pistachio).
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Take them out of the fridge about an hour before serving.

Marzipan: Also see previous posts:

SICILIAN CASSATA and MARZIPAN AT EASTER

CASSATA DECONSTRUCTED – a postmodernist take on Sicilian Cassata

PASTA DI MANDORLA (Marzipan, the traditional recipe)

MARZAPANE also called PASTA REALE (Marzipan)

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