Dec 12: Cooking ‘together’

What do you mean you can’t tell they are stuffed dates?

Part of the 2020 good-times advent calendar! If you have ideas, and/or would like to see something fun drawn into the advent calendar, please let me know. Comment below or email/WhatsApp me and let’s have fun this next few weeks.

Cooking and baking together with family and friends is a part of the winter holiday season that I really like. It’s nice to have finished products to eat and share, but the process itself is nice. It’s cold and dark out, so spending some time inside with the oven on and smelling spices and toasted edges is very cozy. Even better if you get to chat and catch up with friends and family, its a very homey feeling. I still remember having Christmas baking days with Andrea at Thornhill house, and trading recipes and learning from her in the kitchen (we still make cream cheese chocolate chip cookies!) Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings were a large scale operation to which I contributed very little, except to help stir (a legit workout to mix the ultra thick spoon-breaking fruit and nut batter) and make a wish. Bridget used to put together a German cookie press to make delicate spritz cookies, which us smaller ones helped decorate with red or green sugar.

Stuffed date photo via Sobeys

In 2020 cooking together in the same kitchen is not a great idea, but we can still cook together in a distributed way with video conference. My work colleagues had a cook together team building session in the summer, so we are trying it again for a Christmas activity. It will take place this Friday, so I don’t have any photos of it… (the photo is from Sobeys, who also publish a similar recipe) but below is the invitation with ingredient list. The recipe is hopefully easy to follow, and with a little assistance to cut dates and melt chocolate, would be suitable for kids too. If you try web-assisted togetherness cooking , let me know how it turns out!


Hello Colleagues,

It would be nice to have a chance to get together and socialize at the year’s end, even though there is no julbord [Christmas staff party] or other Christmas activities through the Insitution. Given the fun and success of [colleagues] ‘cooking together zoom cooking show’ during the virtual writing retreat in the summer, we will try something similar as a holiday activity.

To acknowledge the Christmas season and the fika timeslot, the proposed recipe is stuffed dates. The finished project looks very nice and makes a nice gift; they are also naturally sweet Christmas treats. It is also very simple and repetitive, so it gives us a lot of time for chatting. It will be nice to make something tasty, but the real value in this is the chatting and visiting we do while we are preparing the recipe.

Ingredients list:

   * 20 whole dates (medjool dates are perfe​ct, or any soft whole date)

   * 50g or marzipan (this can be considered optional if you find it too sweet, or you could substitute hazelnut nougat if you like that better)

   * 20 toasted whole almonds (could also use hazelnuts, especially if you are using nougat)

   * 150g dark chocolate (milk or white chocolate could be substituted)

   * optional decoration to sprinkle on: chopped pistachio, chopped almonds, coconut, rainbow sprinkles, sugar snowflakes, etc.

Equipment list:

 * small sharp knife to slice open the dates
 * small pan & a slightly larger bowl to melt the chocolate   * wax paper, parchment paper, or small paper cups to rest the dates after they have been dipped


I did this with my work buddies on the last Friday before the holidays, and it went great! Not everyone made dates, but everyone did hang out and visit. I forgot to take a photo of the group and the cooking in progress, so you get only a picture of the final product. Happily, there was enough left over toasted almonds and coconut and melted chocolate to make a ‘Chokladbräck‘ as well.