Santa might be on shortbread overload by time he gets down your chimney. Sneak some of these candy bar-inspired stuffed dates with a Middle Eastern twist under the tree, or whip up a batch for yourself. An easy how-to for my seriously crave-worthy Holi-Dates, here.
First, let's give credit where credit's due - and that's New York Magazine's holiday gift guide. I never actually purchase any of the recommendations, but I get a kick out of offerings like $500 cashmere jogging sets (for toddlers). This year, I was thisclose to venturing out for an item on their chocolate-only page. For weeks, it whispered to me from the dog-eared page on my nightstand. "Nicole...I am halvah...and crunchy stuff...and I am enrobed in chocolate...come to me, mon amor."
There's one thing I love more than the thought of anything halvah, and that's walking a straight line to my intended dining destination when I venture into Manhattan. So, no, I never made a special trip for this $6 candy bar, but my loss is our collective gain.
If you're new to halvah - essentially ground sesame blended with sugar - you MIGHT want to start with something special. A friend turned me on to Halvah Heaven, based in Massachusetts, and the stuff is quite magical. Shipping is also fast, which is a plus. I've made these dates with their vanilla bean and silk road varieties (both slam dunks), but you'll most definitely have stellar results with an easier-to-find brand like Joyva (available on Amazon). Pro tip: halvah is also CRAZY delicious sprinkled over roasted eggplant. You're welcome.
Here's where you can't compromise: the date itself. Medjool or bust. End of story. They're bigger, chewier, in a word, superior to their regular old counterparts. Big box stores carry excellent Medjools, and you'll find them at Trader Joe's in the refrigerator section. Don't skimp here!
Going vegan? Swap out the chocolate for allergen-free "chocolate chips."
Happy Holi-Dates to you and yours!
Enjoy your food. Enjoy your life!
AUTHOR: NICOLE RODRIGUEZ, RDN, NASM-CPT
Medjool dates (about a dozen)
Halvah (one bar or bag is plenty - save any leftover in airtight container)
Rice Krispies (about a quarter cup)
Chocolate morsels (about a quarter cup)
Gently slice dates down the center, lengthwise, without cutting in half - just enough to remove the pits.
Sprinkle inside of dates with Rice Krispies, then place a small slice of halvah in the center.
Close dates just enough to hold them together.
Melt chocolate in microwave as per package instructions. Drizzle over dates. Immediately sprinkle with more Rice Krispies. Eat while chocolate is still warm, or store in air-tight container for up to 48 hours.