Sweet And Salty Devils On Horseback Recipe

Devils on horseback, an hors d'oeuvre that dates back to the Victorian era, are traditionally made with prunes that have been soaked in tea and then wrapped in bacon. Some contemporary updates, however, opt to include dates in place of the traditional prunes for a different flavor. As evinced by this recipe for sweet and salty devils on horseback, recipe developer Kate Shungu is a fan of dates wrapped in bacon, and in her experience, she finds that they "are often the first items to disappear off a buffet at a party; I love serving these because they are so popular."

This version of the appetizer, however, includes what Shungu calls "a few surprises inside," these being almonds, dark chocolate, and ancho chile powder, which are all stuffed inside the dates before baking. She feels that "the sweet, salty, and smoky combination is delightful," and she recommends eating the dates while they're warm so that the chocolate stays melted.

Assemble the ingredients for these sweet and salty devils on horseback

This recipe starts with dates, of course, and you'll also need some bacon in which to wrap them. The other necessary ingredients are chocolate (Shungu likes to use bittersweet), almonds (she favors the Marcona variety), and ancho chile powder. You'll also need toothpicks to hold the bacon in place while the dates are cooking.

Step 1: Turn on the oven

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Step 2: Slit open the dates

Cut a slice into each date to create a "pocket" for stuffing.

Step 3: Chop each bacon slice in two

Cut the bacon in half.

Step 4: Chop up the chocolate

Chop chocolate into small (½–¾ inch long) slivers.

Step 5: Stuff the dates with nuts, chocolate, and chile powder

Stuff each date with 2 Marcona almonds, a sliver of chocolate, and a pinch of ancho chile powder.

Step 6: Arrange the bacon strips in a row

Line the bacon up on a work surface.

Step 7: Put the dates on the bacon

Place a stuffed date in the center of each slice of bacon.

Step 8: Wrap the dates in bacon

Roll the date up securely in the bacon slice. Secure with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining dates and bacon slices.

Step 9: Put the dates in a pan

Place all bacon-wrapped dates onto a wire rack set on top of a sheet pan.

Step 10: Cook the dates

Bake for 18–25 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp.

Step 11: Cool and serve the dates

Let cool slightly and serve.

What ingredient swaps can you make with devils on horseback?

Even though this easy appetizer recipe only calls for five ingredients (plus toothpicks), you can still make a few tweaks to suit your needs and preferences. For one thing, you don't need to use imported Marcona almonds, as Shungu allows that the California kind will also work. In fact, she says you can even use a different nut in place of the almonds, proclaiming that "Walnuts would be tasty, too."

Shungu also says that bittersweet chocolate is not de rigueur. Bittersweet chocolate is defined as chocolate with around 70% cacao, but you can swap it out for semisweet chocolate (which comes in around 60%) if you prefer something less bitter. Or, switch in chocolate with a higher cacao percentage if your motto is "more bitter, more better." You could always go the other direction, too, eschewing dark chocolate for milk if you feel that its smooth, creamy, sweetness would go well with dates and bacon (we wouldn't dream of arguing).

How can you make sure that devils on horseback get extra-crispy?

The key to making the best-tasting devils on horseback, according to Shungu is to "make sure you cook the bacon until crisp for the best texture." Her tip for doing this is to arrange the bacon-wrapped dates on a wire rack which is placed inside or over a sheet pan. "This method," she explains, "allows hot air to circulate around the bacon, ensuring it gets crisp on the top and bottom."

If you do not have a wire rack that will fit inside your sheet pan, you don't have to run out and buy one, nor do you need to pass up on these tasty appetizers. Shungu does say, "You can place the bacon-wrapped dates directly on the sheet pan," if need be, although in that case, you might want to turn them over midway through the cooking process so that the bottoms don't get bogged down in bacon grease while only the tops become crispy.

Sweet and Salty Devils On Horseback Recipe
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This recipe updates classic devils on horseback by filling the bacon-wrapped dates with Marcona almonds, chocolate slivers, and ancho chile powder.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
25
minutes
Servings
20
pieces
dates wrapped in bacon
Total time: 40 minutes
Ingredients
  • 20 pitted Medjool dates (about 8 ounces)
  • 10 slices bacon
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • ⅓ cup Marcona almonds
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 20 toothpicks
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut a slice into each date to create a "pocket" for stuffing.
  3. Cut the bacon in half.
  4. Chop chocolate into small (½–¾ inch long) slivers.
  5. Stuff each date with 2 Marcona almonds, a sliver of chocolate, and a pinch of ancho chile powder.
  6. Line the bacon up on a work surface.
  7. Place a stuffed date in the center of each slice of bacon.
  8. Roll the date up securely in the bacon slice. Secure with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining dates and bacon slices.
  9. Place all of the bacon-wrapped dates onto a wire rack set on top of a sheet pan.
  10. Bake for 18–25 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp.
  11. Let cool slightly and serve.
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