These chocolate covered dates are a simple and delicious gluten-free finger food dessert. They’re perfect for special occasions and also make great holiday gifts – just put some in a cellophane bag or paper box and add a festive ribbon.
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There are many different varieties of dates and all of them will work well in this recipe, but I’m partial to medjool dates. Medjool dates are big and sweet with a delicious caramel-like flavour. If you can’t find medjool dates then use whatever type of date you can find.
Since medjool dates are naturally so sweet, I opted to cover them in a variety of dark chocolate that isn’t very sweet, is quite low in refined sugar, and is very high in cacao solids. Generally speaking, dark chocolate that contains a higher percentage of cacao solids is preferable from a nutrition perspective, so I chose a chocolate bar containing 90% cacao solids. Here’s the brand of chocolate I used, but any type of chocolate will work, so use whatever variety suits your diet and palate:
How to make them
These treats are quick and easy to prepare. Start by melting the chocolate. I prefer to take the easy route and melt it in the microwave. To do this, simply break the chocolate into pieces or roughly chop it, then add it to a microwave safe bowl and heat it on high for 20 seconds. Stir, then heat for another 20 seconds. If the chocolate isn’t melted yet then continue to heat at 20 second increments, stirring after each time, until the chocolate is melted.
Alternatively you can melt the chocolate in a pot on the stove set to low heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted. Be sure to remove the pot from the stove as soon as the chocolate is melted or it will burn.
Another method for melting chocolate is to use a double boiler. This gentle method helps prevent the chocolate from burning. To make a double boiler, fill a pot with a couple of inches of water and simmer over low heat on the stove. Place the chocolate in a bowl that fits in the pot but sits high enough that the water doesn’t come into direct contact with the bowl. Stir constantly until the chocolate has melted, then remove from the heat.
Once the chocolate is melted, remove the pits from the dates if they’re not already pitted. Even if the dates you’re using are labelled as pitted, it’s a good idea to check to make sure no pits have snuck through the pitting process.
Add the dates to the bowl of melted chocolate and stir until the dates are thoroughly coated. Then use two forks to lift one date at a time out of the chocolate and allow any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place the dates on a piece of parchment paper on a plate, making sure to space the dates apart a bit so they don’t stick together as they dry and harden.
While the dates are still wet, sprinkle on whatever toppings you like. Freshly grated orange zest is my personal favourite topping for this recipe. Finely chopped nuts such as pecans, peanuts, walnuts, or pistachios are also delicious. Shredded coconut or a sprinkling of flake sea salt are good options too.
Place the plate of dates in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes to harden, then serve them or store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
For added flavour and crunch, place a nut such as a toasted pecan or almond inside the date (right where the pit would have been) before coating it with chocolate.
Or for an even more decadent treat, coat the nuts in chocolate first, allow them to dry and harden in the fridge, then place one chocolate covered nut inside the date before proceeding to dip the date in chocolate. This method results in multiple layers of mouth-watering textures and flavours.
Or for a nut-free version, try a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds to achieve a similar crunch and flavour contrast.
Giving these as gifts
These treats are perfect for diy holiday gifting. When giving these chocolate covered dates as gifts, it’s nice to use several different toppings, as if they were a box of assorted chocolates. Or for another easy, tasty gift idea, try these caramelized almonds. They have the perfect balance of sweet and salty flavours.
Serving these for the holidays
These dates are the perfect finger food dessert for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or Valentine’s Day. Prepare the dates up to a week in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them.
If you stick to nut-free toppings, these would make a good school snack for Valentine’s Day or Halloween (go for the orange zest topping or a sprinkling of pumpkin spice on top of the dates for Halloween).
What else can you coat with chocolate?
You can substitute dried fruit such as dried apricots or figs instead of dates. Fresh fruit such as strawberries, cherries, raspberries, or banana slices work perfectly too. For a special occasion, you can create an impressive dessert board with an assortment of different types of chocolate covered fruit.
More date recipes to try
These chocolate filled strawberries are made with dates that have been blended with cocoa powder. They’re juicy, delicious, and perfect for special occasions.
Or try this simple recipe for date paste. Date paste is a delicious refined sugar-free sweetener that can be used to sweeten baked goods such as cakes and muffins.
Chocolate Covered Dates
- 3.5 oz dark chocolate (100g)
- 12 medjool dates (or substitute any other type of date)
- Optional toppings: freshly grated orange zest, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or flake sea salt.
- Break the chocolate into pieces or roughly chop it.
- Add the chocolate to a large microwave safe bowl and cook on high for 20 seconds, then stir.
- Continue to cook the chocolate on high at 20 second increments, stirring after each time, until the chocolate is melted.
- Remove the pits from the dates (or if using pitted dates, check to make sure no pits have snuck through the pitting process).
- Add the dates to the bowl of melted chocolate and stir until the dates are well coated.
- Use two forks to lift the dates, one at a time, out of the melted chocolate and allow any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.
- Place the dates on a piece of parchment paper on a plate, then sprinkle optional toppings if desired.
- Chill the dates in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes to allow the chocolate coating to dry and harden.
- Serve immediately or store the chocolate covered dates in the fridge for up to a week.
- To reduce the amount of added sugar in this recipe, choose a variety of dark chocolate that contains a high percentage of cacao solids (the brand I used contains 90% cacao solids).
I’m Jennifer, the author at A Sweet Alternative. I create simple, gluten-free recipes made with nutritious ingredients.