"Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle."  - Plato

From the Saharas of the Middle East

The lands where the most vital nourishment – water – is very scarce. Despite the heat and the harsh conditions – and from the quiet of the desert – a sweet and nurturing life springs. One that is only made to give, it hardly ever takes (surrounded with almost non-existent resources). One form of life, that centuries ago gave hope to the merchants who, underestimated the desert, and found themselves lost in the middle of nowhere. The Date Palms, offered a beam of hope that these doomed lost travelers might still make it. That they will find food, water and shelter in an otherwise vast, orange, hot and lonely place!

If the nutritious dates can come out of such deprived environment, from such harsh conditions, and turn out so sweet, then there is hope for everyone.

It is the tradition to break fast with dates. Dates are believed to be very healthy (in moderation), supplementing your body with all the nutrients lost during the fasting. Dates also have a slow sugar release property that helps your body regain energy, without the harsh crash caused by fast sugar releasing foods. Besides the useful chemical composition of dates, they are extremely delicious. They chew, melting slowly as you chew, releasing sugar, oozing of sweetness, somewhere between a soft gummy and a soft fruit texture. The flavour is deep, touching on caramel and at times like toffee, with a distinct flavour utterly sweet.

Dates can be used in many different ways in the making of foods, sauces and desserts. They can be added whole to concoctions such as the Tagine of lamb and Prunes. You can also use dates in the making of some rice dishes, just like we use raisins. You can even, chop dates very finely, and use them to garnish large rice platters, such as Kapseh, Freekeh, Hashwet Kharoof…etc. But today, instead of using the dates to compliment a recipe, I am showing you how to create mouthwatering, beautiful, gem-like date desserts that will please everyone.

I have also included for you a video of a bride and groom chocolate dipped pretzels that I thought were such a cute wedding favour. I think with a bit of patience this can be also applied to the dates! Not everyone has the heart for such detailed work, but I do know some of you out there will love this and do work with such details. 

So read on and enjoy…


  • 1Kg Madjool Dates
  • 1Kg dark chocolate (60-85%),
  • A few dried apricots, cut into strips, the size of the date pit
Filling Options
  • whole raisins
  • whole pistachios, toasted
  • whole blanched or toasted almonds
  • halved walnuts or whole pecans, toasted
  • cashews raw or toasted
  • Dried cherries or cranberries…
Topping options for rolling
  • Crushed toasted Almonds
  • Crushed, toasted pistachios
  • crushed, toasted walnuts
  • Desiccated coconuts
  • Assorted Chocolate shavings
  • Chocolate Sprinkles
  • Colourful Sprinkles for kids
  • melted chocolates in different shades for drizzling

This recipe can result in 3 different types of dates.

  • Plain Stuffed Dates  Where the dates are pitted and dried fruits, nuts, chocolate pieces…etc are placed where the pit was. (as in the main image above)
  • Chocolate Dipped Dates   Where the pitted and stuffed dates are dipped in tempered chocolate, left to set (with or without topping), and then served. (These can also be drizzled with melted chocolate in different shades.)
  •  Rolled Stuffed Dates   Where the chocolate dipped dates are immediately rolled after dipping in any desired topping like: crushed nuts (any nuts or mixture of them), sprinkles (chocolate or edible mini rice wafer stars, gimmies…etc), Chocolate shavings or crushed cocoa nibs…etc.


When I make these I usually make a selection from all three types, each type with a selection of toppings and end up with a fabulous platter of dates that can appeal to all palates. There are only the basic steps that you need to follow. Otherwise, all the rest is really all up to you. So get creative, and the sky is not even the limit, it is just a horizon!

The Plain Stuffed Dates

Cut a slit at the side of the date, remove the seed and place your choice of filling in the place of the seed.

Press the sides together to seal. Place on a serving platter and serve.


The Chocolate-Dipped Stuffed or plain dates

carry out the step above. You can either fill the date with a filling or you can keep them pitted and plain. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Cut the chocolate into 1 inch square pieces. Place 850g of the chocolate pieces in a large heat proof bowl. Keep 150g for seeding (this is so you get properly tempered chocolate). Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

Once all the chocolate has melted – do not overheat – remove the bowl from the simmering water pot, place on a kitchen towel atop the work surface. Gradually add the remaining 150g of chocolate pieces. Mix well after each addition. Stop adding the pieces when the pieces added (the seeds) stop melting and the chocolate appears shiny and smooth. Your chocolate is now in temper and ready for dipping.


Never allow the water in the bottom pot of the double boiler to touch the bottom of the bowl holding the chocolate. The water should be just 1/4 of the bottom pot, and only the steam will get in contact with the bottom of the bowl containing the chocolate. Also never allow water to get in contact with the chocolate, be organised and neat as you work, or you will have to discard the batch and start new.


Individually dip each date into the tempered chocolate, roll to coat, then lift using a fork. Tap the fork gently at the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate.

Place the chocolate dipped date on the lined baking sheet. Repeat until all quantity is finished.

You can top with slithered nuts or sprinkle with a crushed nut topping or you can leave it plain with only the chocolate coating.

Leave the dipped dates to set overnight in a cool dry place.


For the Rolled Dates

Follow the two previous steps. Right after dipping the dates in chocolate and removing the excess, place the dipped date in a bowl full of crushed nuts – or desired topping – and roll them to coat. You can either half dip and roll or fully dip and roll the dates.

Place on the lined sheets, and leave to set overnight in a cool dry place.


The next day

  • You will find trays upon trays of tempting assortments of dates. Don’t eat them! Ok then, have only one!
  • Place them on your loved serving platters, in the arrangements you desire.
  • You can use wooden trays, silver trays, cake stands, tiered platters…etc.
  • For a “Gift From The Kitchen”:  Wrap your assorted platter with a large plastic wrap (like the ones used by florists), tie the top with a ribbon and place a little card with a message and gift to your friends, neighbours, visitors…


As good as store bought. Actually, even better!
Ramadan Kareem

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