Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates

For a bite of big flavor, try these Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates. With holiday parties right around the corner (yikes, how many days until Christmas?!?), I seem to get the urge to cook and bake even more – as if I have time, what with trying to get all the gifts bought and decorating done, right? Sigh, if only there were two of me at this time of year!

My husband loves the ever-so-popular brown sugar-coated, bacon-wrapped little smokies, and I admit, they can be pretty addictive. I’ve come to realize, though, that little smokies just don’t do it for me anymore. So, I set out to find an alternative, slightly healthier version of this fun party treat.

The answer came in the form of dates. Dates are slightly sweet and chewy and even resemble little smokies a little bit. They pair well with a variety of flavors and textures, and are pretty simple to stuff – so stuff and wrap them I did.  I guess at this time of year I get so used to stuffing (stockings) and wrapping (gifts) that it made sense to carry these tasks into the kitchen.

The first time I took these little bites of delight to a party, I was asked many times if they were little smokies. They are deceiving, and make for a very pleasant surprise when someone unknowingly takes a bite, expecting the sausage appetizers and instead finding a bite that has the same sweet, savory, salty and smoky elements, but at the same time, has a more complex and unique flavor because of the combination of ingredients. It’s fun to watch faces in those moments.

The dates are stuffed with a cream cheese and fresh rosemary filling, which tastes wonderful with the sweet dates and smoky bacon, however, if you don’t care for rosemary, fresh thyme would be lovely as an alternative.

These bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed dates have become a hit at the parties I’ve taken them to, and I hope you love them as well!

 

Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates How-To Photos:

Use pitted whole dates – just make sure there is no added sugar.

Make Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates for your next festive get-together. These bites of big flavor are a healthy alternative to bacon-wrapped smokies.

Combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl.

Make Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates for your next festive get-together. These bites of big flavor are a healthy alternative to bacon-wrapped smokies.

Cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, fresh rosemary, and black pepper.

Make Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates for your next festive get-together. These bites of big flavor are a healthy alternative to bacon-wrapped smokies.

Stir filling until well combined.

Make Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates for your next festive get-together. These bites of big flavor are a healthy alternative to bacon-wrapped smokies.

Spoon filling into a piping bag to make filling the dates super easy and quick.

Make Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates for your next festive get-together. These bites of big flavor are a healthy alternative to bacon-wrapped smokies.

The filling may not be completely enclosed – that’s fine!

Make Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates for your next festive get-together. These bites of big flavor are a healthy alternative to bacon-wrapped smokies.

Place wrapped and honey drizzled dates on a parchment paper lined baking pan for easier clean-up!

Make Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates for your next festive get-together. These bites of big flavor are a healthy alternative to bacon-wrapped smokies.

Don’t these look a bit like bacon-wrapped little smokies?

Make Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates for your next festive get-together. These bites of big flavor are a healthy alternative to bacon-wrapped smokies.

 

Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Yield:  36 appetizers

Nutrition Information (per appetizer): 48 cals, 2 g pro, 7 g carb, 2 g fat, 6 mg cholesterol, 1 g sat fat, 1 g fiber, 82 mg sodium

Ingredients:

1/3 cup light tub-style cream cheese*
2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
36 whole dates, pitted (for the love of time, buy them already pitted please)
18 strips bacon (about 12 ounces)
36 wooden toothpicks
2 tablespoons honey

Method:

In a small bowl stir together cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, rosemary, and pepper. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large open tip or into a very sturdy plastic bag with the top of one corner cut off. Carefully open the dates and pipe the mixture evenly into the centers. Press dates closed to surround the filling.

Cut the bacon strips in half crosswise. In a large skillet, cook bacon until nearly done. Drain on paper towels. Wrap one bacon piece around each stuffed date and use a toothpick to secure the bacon to the date (this comes in handy for eating them later!). Place wrapped dates on a parchment paper-lined or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with honey.

Bake in a 400°F oven about 10 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm.

*Tip:  If you love goat cheese as much as I do, try this with 3 tablespoons soft goat cheese and 2 tablespoons cream cheese. Because goat cheese is so flavorful, you’ll get plenty of flavor with just 3 tablespoons, and mixing it with a bit of cream cheese will keep the consistency of the filling nice and creamy.

Make Ahead Tip:  Prepare as directed through step 2.  Cover the wrapped dates and chill up to 2 days. To serve, bake as directed in step 3.

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