Walnut Date Cups with Blue Cheese and Candied Bacon
Servings: 24 pieces
1 cup walnuts, toasted
12 ounces Medjool dates, pitted
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 (18"x12") sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed and brought to room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled (Recommended: Point Reyes original blue)
24-count mini muffin pan
2 baking sheets
Microplane or grater
1. Make Candied Bacon (see recipe below) and set aside to cool.
2. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
3. In a food processor, pulse together the walnuts, dates, orange zest, and orange juice until a coarse, nutty spread is formed. I prefer my filling on the chunky side, but evenly combined.
4. Place a sheet of phyllo dough on a work surface. Brush the dough with melted butter. Place another sheet of dough on top and brush with melted butter. Repeat until you have 4 sheets of dough stacked.
5. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 24 (3-inch) square pieces.
6. Gently press each piece of dough into the muffin pan. Spoon the walnut and date filling into the cups.
7. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and let the phyllo cups cool for 10 minutes.
8. Using a small spoon, remove the phyllo cups from the pan. Arrange the cups on a platter, top each one with a little blue cheese and garnish with a piece of candied bacon. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli
3 slices bacon, about 1/4-inch thick (or more, for fun)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Sprinkle the bacon with the brown sugar, coating both sides.
3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the bacon in a single layer on top. Place a second piece of parchment paper on top, and cover with another baking sheet. The baking sheet will keep the bacon from curling up as it cooks.
4. Place the tray in the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. If it is not golden brown and crispy, bake it for another 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Transfer the bacon to a wire rack (not paper towels because the sugar will make it stick) and let it harden up a bit more. Break each strip into small shards. Set aside for garnishing.