These little treats go back many, many years to when I was a very small girl in Redwood City, California. In preparation for our family gatherings, my mom would make these stuffed dates and one year at last I was old enough to help. Mom cracked the nuts and sliced and pitted the dates, then I would put the nuts into the dates. Together, we would roll them in powdered sugar and arrange the powdery white morsels prettily on a plate to serve as one of the desserts. When I grew up, I never forgot those lovely delicacies; but as I grew up, the powdered sugar seemed more and more like gilding the lily. Dates are plenty sweet enough without adding more! So the version below is what I now make; the same thing without the powdered sugar. The preparation is easier today than those many years ago, because now you can buy walnuts already shelled, and dates come already pitted. It’s almost ridiculously simple, but to actually assemble these make them far more of a treasure than simply popping a handful of chopped dates and walnuts into your mouth. You also want to present them beautifully, as we have done here with boxes, brightly colored cloth, and of course labels to make them completely yours.
You Will Need:
• Dates, and walnut halves or pecan halves
• Small gift boxes, 3″ x 3″ x 2″
• Personalized Labels
• Small pieces of clean, brightly colored cotton cloth (optional)
• Decorative paper cut into 11” x 2” strips. Use what you have on hand – made from a grocery sack as you can see in the photo, or choose decorative paper from a craft store like Michael’s or on line from Paper Source.
Bake the walnuts and/or pecans until brown (this takes about 10-20 minutes at 350 – watch carefully!) Cut a slit in the dates to open the center. When the nuts have cooled, open each date and press a nut inside where the seed used to be. Arrange carefully in your container and close the lid. Wrap a strip of paper around tightly and tape the ends together at the top with a small piece of tape. Then place a label over the seam.
There you go! Your lovely treats are ready to give!
Guidelines for Simple Gifts:
• Plan ahead. Think about and decide what you want to do well in advance so you can do the shopping portion of the giftmaking along with other errands. Have all materials and ingredients on hand when it is time to make the gift.
• Packaging. Pretty packaging makes any gift special. Arm yourself with a supply of small boxes or cellophane bags and ribbon. We also recommend having your own personalized tags or labels on hand. Use generic wording so they can be used on a multitude of items. For example, mom’s tags and labels say “with love from Grammie.” With no reference to what the item is, they can be used on anything!
• It is not the item itself that is special; it is the idea that you think enough about a person to prepare something personally for them. Sometimes your gift doesn’t even have to be handmade; but hand-assembled. Follow this monthly series and you will see examples of both.