Coconut Almond Date Bites

Makes 24
These creamy coconut-stuffed dates are a guilt-less twist on one of our favorite candy bars. The soft, chewy dates make for the perfect 2-bite dessert when filled with coconut and almonds and dipped in chocolate. The filling might seem a little loose, but as the stuffed-dates chill in the freezer, the melted coconut solidifies and holds the whole thing together.

 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
 Boiling water
 ¼ cup Tablespoons melted coconut oil
 3 Tablespoons agave syrup
 Pinch kosher salt
 24 large Rancho Meladuco Date Farm Medjool dates
 48 toasted salted almonds (about ½ cup)
 1 pound dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa), finely chopped

Optional garnishes:
 Flaky sea salt
 Chopped toasted almonds
 Toasted shredded coconut

Spread the coconut in a medium heatproof bowl. Add just enough boiling water to cover. Let sit for 20 minutes until the coconut has softened and absorbed most of the water. Strain the coconut and squeeze out any excess moisture. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the melted coconut oil, agave and salt and pulse until finely chopped.

Using a sharp paring knife, make a slit along one side of each date. Remove the pits. Working with one date at a time, stuff with 1 heaping teaspoon of the coconut filling and gently press two almonds into the coconut. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining dates. When you are finished, freeze the dates for 15 minutes to firm up.

Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, microwave half of chocolate on HIGH for 1 minute, or until just melted. Remove from the microwave and add the remaining chocolate. Stir until completely melted.

Using a fork, gently lower one stuffed date at a time into the melted chocolate and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, chopped almonds or more coconut, if using. Repeat with the remaining dates, then transfer the plate to the freezer for an additional 15 minutes. MAKE AHEAD The Almond Joy Dates can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a week. Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe and photo by Julia Heffelfinger

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