Salty, crunch, creamy and sweet, bacon-wrapped dates offer an explosion of flavor on the palette. Delectable as an appetizer, they are also a dish that can be prepared ahead of time, frozen and then served for a dinner party or family gathering. The trick is to par-cook the bacon before freezing so you end up with a crisp piece of bacon wrapped on the outside of the date after it is thawed, heated and served.
Par-Cooking the Bacon
After pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, arrange the bacon on a lined baking sheet in a single layer. While the bacon strips can be close together, make sure they don't overlap or touch as this will result for longer or uneven cooking. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The goal is to par-cook the bacon to a level where it is still pliable and supple, but not crisp. If the bacon is too crisp, it won't wrap around the dates. The red hue of the bacon should darken, but it should not become rigid. Exact par-cooking time will depend on the length and thickness of the bacon. Once par-cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
While recipes vary slightly, bacon wrapped dates often have a creamy cheese mixture piped into the center of the pitted date. After mixing the cheese, place in a piping bag or sealable plastic bag with a snipped corner. Using a gentle amount of pressure, fill each date with the cheese mixture until the opening is filled. Next, cut your bacon strips in half or thirds. Wrap a piece of bacon completely around the date and secure in place with a tooth pick. Repeat until you've completed wrapping all of your dates.
In an air-tight container, place the bacon-wrapped dates in a single layer. Add a piece of parchment or wax paper over the top the dates and continue layering until the container is filled. Secure the lid and store in the freezer. It is important that you let the bacon completely cool before freezing so steam and water molecules don't get trapped in the air-tight container and cause freezer burn. Though, technically, food stays safe indefinitely at zero degrees F in the freezer, consume dates within three months for best taste.
Thawing and Reheating
Transfer the bacon-wrapped dates from the freezer to the fridge 24 hours before you wish to serve. This will give them ample time to thaw at a safe temperature. About 20 minutes before you wish to serve, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the bacon-wrapped dates on a lined baking sheet in a single layer. Cook for six to eight minutes until the bacon is crisp on the outside of the date. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Remember that the cheese on the inside can become quite hot, so allowing them to cool for a couple of minutes is essential. Also, some people prefer to serve bacon-wrapped dates with the toothpicks in place, while others prefer to remove them before sharing with guests.