Don’t miss this easy vintage recipe for Marzipan Dates, the perfect Christmastime snack. Marzipan Dates are a part of Christmas every year in our family, and the recipe holds lots of happy memories.
The History of Marzipan Dates
When my husband was little, his maternal Granddad Pip made these delicious treats every Christmas. They became the stuff of memory, and every year my husband makes a big batch in honour of his Granddad and those days gone by.
Like my husband’s Granddad, these treats were Victorian and Edwardian in origin. They would have been referred to as ‘sweetmeats’ when Granddad was growing up, and were often eaten at the end of a meal. (Sweetmeats originally referred to offal, but from the Victorian era the word came to mean sweet, candied or glacé fruit).
When my husband was a little boy, Granddad Pip him how to make these sweets. As soon as our son was old enough to handle a knife safely, my husband passed the recipe along. They have made together them every year ever since.
That’s my husband and son making Marzipan Dates back in 2010 in the photograph above.
And here they are in 2019. Sadly this year we won’t be able to be together because of the pandemic, so Guy and Alexander will each have to make the recipe on their own. It’s nice to be enjoying the same treats though.
How to Make Marzipan Dates
This recipe could not be easier to make, and packaged in pretty containers these treats make a lovely gift. Marzipan is available ready made, and is usually sold in small square blocks.
Choose nice fat dried dates for this recipe. Medjool dates work well. You can buy dates that have already had the pits removed, but it is more frugal to buy them with the pits still in, and it is not difficult to remove them. However if you are making these with children, remove the pits first as this task does require a sharp knife. Always be careful when using knives.
Of course, you don’t need exactly 18 dates or exactly 5 ounces of marzipan. This recipe is very flexible.
Is This Recipe Gluten Free?
Both dates and marzipan (almond paste) are gluten free. These treats are a healthy-ish snack too. Dates contain fibre, protein and antioxidants, although they (and the marzipan) are high in calories so enjoy these treats in moderation.
Marzipan Stuffed Dates – Printable Recipe
- 18 dates Use plump dates, Medjool dates work well
- 5 ounces marzipan About 160 grams, you may not need it all
- If using dates with pits in them, carefully slice them lengthwise without cutting all the way through. Carefully prise the pit out. Then carefully make a small narrow cut in each date.
- If the dates you are using have already had their pits removed, you will probably find they already have a long narrow cut in them, so simply prise it open.
- Cut a slice about a half inch wide from the block of marzipan.
- Then cut small pieces off the narrow end of the slice, using your fingers to roll them into cylindrical pieces slightly shorter than the length of the date.
- Tuck a marzipan roll into the slice in each date. Carefully use the end of a knife to help push it in all the way. Again, if making these with children, an adult should do the latter step, after the children have put the marzipan into the slices in the dates.
- Store the Marzipan Stuffed Dates in an airtight container or cover them well so they stay nice and moist. Properly wrapped, they will keep well at room temperature for a week to ten days.