If you have these things on hand, and pitted dates keep for while, this is a quick, make-at-the-last-minute bite that goes perfectly with a sweeter aperitif or with a semi-dry sherry. It’s also nice on a cheese plate, with cured meats or even on a dessert table.

sweet stuff

Saffron Ricotta-Stuffed Dates

The saffron imparts just a mild scent and taste and is not imperative, really. You could scent the cream with fresh mint leaves or even tea by steeping some in the cream while it heats up and then cools down. Strain the same way before mixing the cream into the cheese.

1/4 c heavy cream
Pinch saffron threads
Pinch kosher salt
24 dates (ideally pitted)
1/2 c fresh ricotta, drained as much as possible

Add cream, saffron threads and salt to a small pot and heat until steaming, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, if the dates are not pitted, slit dates and discard pits.

When the cream is cool, strain and discard saffron threads and add cream to ricotta. Mix well to combine and to cream the ricotta. Pinch dates open and pipe or spoon a scant teaspoon of ricotta mixture into each. For an after-dinner treat, serve with port or sherry. As an appetizer, serve with briny or salted treats for contrast.

Makes 2 dozen.

This story and recipe appear in SUGAR & SPICE, Issue 008 of Le Sauce Magazine.