Sweet dates are roasted in a spiced sherry-syrup in this recipe adapted from celebrated pastry chef Claudia Fleming's The Last Course (Random House, 2001) by Tim Mazurek for his column Back of the Bookshelf column.
- 24 pitted dates
- 1 cup dry or off-dry sherry
- 1⁄4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 4 crushed cardamom pods
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 strip orange peel (about 1" x 3")
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan, combine the dates, sherry, brown sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and orange peel with 1 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then pour it into a shallow baking dish (reserve the saucepan). Bake the dates for 15 minutes, basting with syrup every 5 minutes.
Remove the dates from the syrup. When the dates are cool enough to handle, slip them from their skins. Discard the skins and set the dates aside. Strain the syrup back into the saucepan; discard the solids. Bring the syrup to a simmer. Let the syrup simmer until it is reduced by a third, about 7 minutes, then whisk the butter in bit by bit. To serve, arrange 4 dates on each plate. Spoon some sauce over the tops and serve immediately, topped with whipped cream, if you like.