Yield: 26-30 dates
1# package Medjool Dates (pits removed)
1 cup Almonds (slivered, or whole blanched is best)
1/4 cup+ powdered sugar (*may need additional)
1 T. orange zest (**or 1 T. orange flower water)
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. melted butter
**Optional items to finish:
colored gel paste
1) For the almond paste: using a food processor, add the almonds, cinnamon, sugar, and zest, and process for 2-5 minutes, (depending on what kind you have, processing time will vary!) You want to keep an eye on it, and when the mixture begins to really become fine and start to clump together, stream in the melted butter, and continue to process until it becomes a fine paste. Remove, and scrape out into a bowl or clean surface, and cover with plastic wrap if not using right away. **If the paste seems to "shiny" or tacky, simply knead in some additional powdered sugar.
2) If coloring the paste: take some powdered sugar, sprinkle it over a clean work surface, and divide your paste. Using a tooth pick, dab some of the colored gel paste in the center of your almond paste, and keep working the paste until you get the desired color. Set aside.
3) For pitting the dates: take a paring knife, make a slit down the center of the date, (make sure NOT to go all the way through! You don't want to cut it in half!) Remove the pit. Repeat the process until all of the dates are pitted.
4) To fill: simply take a small amount of the paste, and stuff into the date- making sure to have some extra along the top seam, (as seen in above pics.) Repeat until all of the desired number of dates are filled.
Finish by: taking a paring knife and scoring the top in a crisscross design, or you could use a clean rubber or silicone stamp/mold to imprint a pattern, or you could simply place a whole nut on top. You could also roll the sides of the finished dates in granulated sugar, or shredded coconut. Place on a plate or serving platter, and serve to your guests either cold, or at room temp.!
***Keep refrigerated in a sealed container to keep fresh longer.