Bacon Wrapped Dates


32 large dates, preferably Medjool 

1 cup Mushroom Hong Kong cream cheese, recipe follows

1/4 sliced Marcona almonds, broken into pieces 

16 slices bacon, cut in half  

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place bacon slices on a sheet tray and cook until fat has begun to render, but bacon is still very flexible.  

While bacon cooks, pit dates by splitting lengthwise with fingers and pushing pits out, leave split open. Mix almonds into cream cheese. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream cheese mixture into each date. Wrap each date with a piece of bacon and rest seam side down on a sheet tray. Turn oven up to 400. Cook until bacon is crisp and dates are heated through, about 8-12 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to a serving platter and serve hot.   






Mushroom Hong Kong Cream Cheese

½ cup dried Shiitake mushroom caps

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil

2 cups crimini mushrooms, diced small

1 lb cream cheese, softened

Salt to taste

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine dried shiitakes and heavy cream and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil to a skillet over high heat. Add crimini mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes until starting to brown. Stir in Hong Kong sauce and finish cooking until tender, remove from heat and let cool. 

Strain cream and mix with criminis. Whip softened cream cheese until fluffy and fold in cream mixture. Salt to taste.