Mascarpone stuffed dates couldn't be a simpler appetizer to assemble. I used Deglet Noor dates, which are firm and not overly-sweet. FIrst, I pitted them and stuffed them with a coffee and rosemary-flavored mascarpone cream. This could surprise, but coffee pairs incredibly well with meat and with the addition of earthy rosemary, the duck prosciutto didn't feel lonely. These appetizers made a great snack; baby Aria and I enjoyed them a lot!
Please save the date for my upcoming book signing appearances. The next ones are taking place at Barnes and Noble. If you're in the Bay Area, be sure to stop by Barnes and Noble Blossom Hill, 5353 Almaden Expressway, Building B in San Jose, California. I'll be doing a cooking demo, followed by a book signing, on July 5th at noon.
Servings: 15 appetizers
30 Deglet Noor dates
¾ cup mascarpone cheese
¼ cup heavy whipping cream, cold
¼ teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely ground
⅛ teaspoon pure coffee extract
½ teaspoon date syrup (or maple syrup)
⅛ teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
8 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto
Slit the dates open on each end and carefully remove and discard the pits using a chopstick, creating a hole down the center of each date.
In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese, coffee extract, date syrup, ground rosemary and sea salt.
Using a mini whisk, beat the cream in another bowl until it forms soft peaks. Do NOT over-mix. Gently fold into the mascarpone cream.
Plastic-wrap the container and place in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
Use a round-shaped decorating tip. Spoon the mascarpone cream into a pastry bag (I used a small zip-top bag, cut one corner and fitted in the decorating tip) with the mascarpone cream.
Pipe a little filling into each end of the date. Wrap each date in half of a prosciutto slice.
Repeat until all the dates are wrapped. You could place the date appetizers on pita chips and garnish with a bit of curly parsley.
I used Deglet Noor dates. They're not as sweet as Medjool dates. I recommend not buying the pitted ones as they seem to have less flavor. You could also try other varieties of dates such as Amer Hajj dates (small in size with a hint of spiciness) or Empress (they have a distinctive yellow crown, a chewy texture and are a lot less sweet than the other kinds).
You could also wrap the dates in smoked salmon or smoked turkey.
For the ground rosemary, simply combine a bit of coarse sea salt with fresh rosemary in a mortar and pestle and turn into a fine powder.