Another feast day, another indulgence. This time a very simple canapé. Plump, luscious Medjool dates, split, seeded and filled with a perfectly ripe triple cream white mould cheese. Finished with a generous sprinkling of freshly roasted, crushed pistachio. A most elegant canapé, well suited to relaxed entertaining through the festive season. Perfect served with a glass of something dry and sparkling. Chez nous it’s usually Prosecco or Champagne.
This canapé relies on the quality of its ingredients. Large, plump Medjool dates have long been prized in the Middle East, often referred to as the ‘Fruit of Paradise’ or ‘King of Dates’. With a rich, almost caramel flavour, they are juicy, sweet and succulent; even when dried. They are very easy to prepare. Simply make an incision with a sharp paring knife down one side and gently ease the stone from the centre. The dates are then ready to be filled with a generous smear of soft, ripe cheese.
I like to use a triple cream white mould cheese, with a wonderfully rich, almost sweet, buttery flavour. French or Australian, depending on my mood. Most times I can’t resist an imported Fromager des Clarines or d’Affinois, or one of our local triple cream bries; Jindi, Tarago River or King Island’s Seal Bay. This time, however, I well and truly straddled both camps with a Will Studd selected Lincet Brillat Savarin from my local delicatessen. Will Studd is an Australian cheese specialist and the Brillat-Savarin comes from the Champagne region in France. Named after the 19th century gastronome and epicure, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, it’s luscious and creamy with faint lemony tones, and paired beautifully with my dates.
This is a very easy prepare ahead canapé. However, as the cheese comes in a very attractive wooden box, to make entertaining even easier I sometimes simply remove the stones from the dates and place them on a platter with the cheese, a silver salver of crushed pistachios. Ready for my guests to assemble on their own, with as much or as little of the luxurious cheese as takes their fancy.
Medjool Dates With Brillat-Savarin and Pistachio
Makes 20 – 24 pieces, depending on the size of the dates
One 200g wheel of perfectly ripe triple cream cheese, at room temperature
One 450g packet of Natural Delights Medjool Dates
75g (1/2 cup) pistachio kernels
REMOVE the cheese from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
DRY ROAST the pistachio kernels over high heat in a heavy based pan, until just beginning to colour, being careful not to burn them. Remove from pan to a paper lined plate, as the residual heat of the pan will continue to cook the kernels.When cool, pulse in the bowl of a small food processor until crushed. Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle or sharp knife.
MAKE an incision down one side of each date, and gently ease out the stone.
FILL each date with a generous smear of cheese. Top with a sprinkling of crushed pistachios.
PLACE on a platter and serve.