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The first time I ate bacon wrapped dates I was in Spain. It was one of the many tapas I enjoyed and seemed like a revelation. If you’re not familiar with tapa culture- let’s start with the definition. Tapa is short for Tapar, which means to cover.  In Andalusia (southern region of Spain) people would put small plates to cover their drinks to keep out bugs. Hence the tapa was born.

When I first arrived I stayed in Seville and would frequently go out with friends to tapas bars for a drink and a snack. The most memorable tapas bar was tucked away in a small alley near Las Setas. We stood at the bar with a drink in one hand and a tapa in the other while the bartender kept our tab by writing it in chalk on the bar.

Another memorable time was in Granda which is also very famous for their tapa culture (among other things). At the bar, for every drink you ordered they served a tapa from whatever few they had that evening. You either took what they served, or had nothing. One of those tapas was a sardine filet on a white crostini with honey. Not something I normally would have thought to eat, or picked from a menu, but was so glad I did since it was surprisingly good!

This recipe is not a traditional version, but a fall inspired take with maple syrup and brown sugar. Besides serving this with other small dishes, it’s commonly served as an appetizer, or it can be served as a classy snack during a football game.

Ingredients:

  • 15 pitted dried dates
  • 5 slices of smoked bacon
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a pastry brush, paint the dates with maple syrup. On a cutting board lay out the slices of bacon and also brush with maple syrup only on one side. Sprinkle the same side of the bacon with brown sugar. I found that the maple syrup and brown sugar on the inside of the bacon slightly rehydrates the date and makes it especially gooey.

Cut the bacon into 3 equal size pieces. Place a date in the middle of a slice, wrap the bacon around the date tightly, and secure with a tooth pick. Place the wrapped date, toothpick side down, on a rack in an aluminum lined pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. For an extra crunch on the bacon set the oven to broil for the last minute.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, which is about 5 minutes, and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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