I love to entertain. Even though I plan mass quantities of food for the meal and desserts (notice the plural – there are always at least 3 desserts), hors d-oeurves are a fact of life. There has to be a selection of tidbits to tide everyone over because guests arrive at various times and, quite often, cooking takes longer than expected (sigh!).

My criteria for appetizers is that they don’t fill everyone up and can be made ahead of time. (There are exceptions to the last rule – but only when I don’t have a hundred things to do during meal prep.)

SWEET & SPICY STUFFED DATES are a delightfully diverse combination of sweet and tangy, creamy and crunchy…with a kick! The filling is easy to prepare, and the dates can be stuffed ahead of time. Apply the pistachio nut topper at the last minute to make sure it’s nice and crisp.

NOTE:  Cayenne pepper is potent stuff – a little goes a long way. Vary the amount to suit yourself. But bear in mind, the spiciness gets diluted by the date, so don’t just try the filling – put some on a date to taste-test.

SWEET & SPICY STUFFED DATES – makes about 19

  • 18-20 dried dates (I used 19), pitted
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1½ rounded T pistachio nuts
  • 18-20 additional pistachio nuts for topping
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I use 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 T capers with 1/4 tsp of the liquid

Slice open each date by sticking the tip of a blade of your kitchen shears into one pit hole and cutting lengthwise to the other pit hole (see photo).


Finely chop (but don’t grind)  the 1½ T pistachio nuts. (I used the small pitcher of my Oster blender since I hate to chop).

Mix together the cream cheese, chopped pistachios, cayenne pepper, and capers.

The easiest way to stuff the dates is to spoon mixture into a pastry bag (see photo) and squeeze the filling out. This works great, especially if you’re making a lot. But you can, also, just use a spoon to fill the dates.

Hold open slit date and squeeze in filling.

Hold open slit date and squeeze in filling.

If you’re not serving these immediately, cover and refrigerate. To serve, top each with a whole pistachio nut.




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