Every season has a striking ingredient, an outstanding color, an out of the ordinary shape and form that catches the eye and keeps attracting attention. Every cook has preferred flavors where prominent elements in the kitchen evolve, influenced by life’s experiences and the aesthetics of the moment. The best recipes, like a favorite book, are a mixture of the old and the new — of memory and discovery. Cooking does not always involve long labor at the stove or an elaborate process of preparation. In fact some of the very best inventions just happen by chance. My prominent fruit of the moment is the crimson blood orange and my preferred method for dessert is simple, quick and easy. The following recipe is a collection of just a few of winter’s most impressive ingredients — the blood orange and the Medjool date.
- Two blood oranges . preferably Sanguinello or Moro types
- 15 Medjool dates
- 50 grams of hazelnuts
- one teaspoon of organic honey . from a local beekeeper
- 50 grams of dark chocolate with 70 to 85% cacao solids
Wash the oranges and carefully grate the zest of one without tearing the delicate peel. Dry roast the hazelnuts in a skillet until pale golden brown. Melt the dark chocolate by breaking it into pieces and placing it in a double boiler. Peel and section the oranges and set them aside in a bowl. Make a slit lengthwise in the dates, removing the pit. Grind the hazelnuts to a coarse powder with three dates with a pestle and mortar or a food processor. Add the honey and a pinch of orange zest to the hazelnuts and mix to a slightly sticky paste. Fill each date with a teaspoon of the hazelnut mixture. Arrange the orange sections and stuffed dates on a platter. Drizzle the dark melted chocolate over them and sprinkle some orange zest over the top just before serving.
Serve the hazelnut filled dates and blood oranges on your favorite platter for dessert with served with a steaming hot espresso “ristretto”. Proudly serve your easy dessert scattered with fresh mint leaves at the middle of the brunch table or serve them with a bowl of yoghurt for a lazy Sunday breakfast.
Make a spicy filling by adding a pinch of dried red peppers and ground fennel seeds and serve the dates with a glass of Champagne.