How To Prep Stuffed Dates For The Tastiest, Prettiest Eid Al-Fitr Spread

The month-long fast of Ramadan concludes with Eid al-Fitr – a celebratory breaking of the fast. In addition to exchanging gifts and visiting with other members of the community, the agenda includes feasting on rich, decadent foods, with a strong focus on special occasion sweets. That's where plump, sweet dates enter the picture.

One of the world's sweetest fruits, dates are ubiquitous during this "Festival of Sweets," as Eid al-Fitir is also known. Dates figure into many of the holiday's traditional dishes from the sweet, creamy breakfast porridge, l'assida to baklava. Dates also appear on platters and in elaborate spreads, often stuffed with sweet labne, cream cheese, nuts, nut pastes, or nut butter. 

Whether or not you've been participating in Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr offers an opportunity to enjoy this candy-like fruit, stuffed to perfection with sweet, creamy fillings, Thank goodness stuffed dates are a cinch to prepare. 

Easily prepare stuffed dates with a few simple steps

Preparing stuffed dates is a straightforward process — simply slice the dates lengthwise (though not all the way through), then remove the pit, spoon in your stuffing, and top with whatever you fancy — but there are couple of tips that can help you make the prettiest tray of stuffed dates possible. 

First, try to find large soft dates since they'll be easier to work with. We recommend using Medjool dates. This variety is so sweet that they've earned the nickname, "nature's candy" and their bigger size make them easier to stuff. Soft dates will also be easier to cut and stuff without destroying their shape, but if you find yours are quite tough or hard don't worry. Hard dates are still good. They're probably not stale, it's just that moisture-rich dates inevitably harden in time. All you need is a little hydration to soften them. And we've got just the trick. 

If you've prepared a sweet, creamy filling and have decadent toppings on deck, but open your package of dates and find they're harder than you were expecting, simply place your dates in a shallow bowl, boil some water, and pour over the dates to cover. You can even spike your water with rose water, fruit juice, or, if you're serving adults, a shot of espresso. Wait about 10 minutes, then strain out the water and voila! Alternatively, you can steam your dates over boiling water, which takes roughly the same amount of time, or for an even faster route heat them briefly in the microwave, with or without water. 

Whatever method you choose your dates should be soft, plump, and ready for slicing and stuffing, or enjoying out of hand. Once that's done you'll have delicious stuffed dates for Eid al-Fitir in no time.