Why don’t people use dates more often? Growing up in a Middle Eastern/American household, dates were a staple in our kitchen. My mom would serve dates alongside almonds and dried apricots as an appetizer or snack, and she would also chop them up to put them in breads or cakes. The neighbor’s kids thought it was kind of kooky that we had dates sitting on the counter all the time. I don’t think it’s too late to discover this rich dried fruit, which by the way is loaded with fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamin B6. I prefer Medjool dates because they are more meaty and taste almost like a chewy chocolate bar.
The most popular use of the date in the Middle East is for a special cookie called mah’moul, or ka’akbi-ajwaI. This cookie has a dough made of semolina flour and clarified butter, enrobing a chewy roll of ground dates. This is one of my favorite cookies of all time, but in my family we only make them once a year at Easter, and they are very time and labor intensive. What to do the rest of the year when you’re craving these cookies but don’t have several hours to spend making them? In comes my date fritter, using wonton skins. Yup, you read correctly, I use Asian wonton skins to make Middle Eastern style fritters. I looooooove wonton skins. From raviolis to salad cups these little squares of dough are so versatile and easy to work with.
One hot summer night I had some unexpected guests that were coming over in 15 minutes. I looked in my refrigerator and saw the wonton skins, then saw the dates sitting on my counter. I thought, let me put these two together to see what happens. I took the same flavors of a Middle Eastern cookie, and turned it into these melt in your mouth confections–and they were a huge hit with a glass of hot mint tea. My guests enjoyed it so much I decided to add this recipe to my cookbook. These fritters are addictive and almost chocolaty—crunchy on the outside and sweet and moist on the inside.
- Date Fritters
- Serves 8 (two fritters each)
1 cup Dates
½ cup Walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
16 Wonton skins
Egg white, blended with fork
Powdered sugar and cinnamon for final dusting
Optional: Crushed walnuts or almonds, and honey
Place dates walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg, in the food processor and process into a paste where the walnuts are still a little chunky. Shape into 1/2 inch balls with oiled hands and set aside. Take a wonton skin and brush the edges with egg white. Place a date ball in the middle of the wonton skin and either fold the edges into a triangle turnover style, or shape the balls into cylinders to shape eggroll style. Place about 2 cups of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. When oil is heated through, gently place turnovers, about 3 at a time, and fry until golden brown. Place on a plate lined with paper towels, and dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon. For a fancier presentation, sprinkle crushed almonds or walnuts over the top and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.