Sugar, salt, and fat make things taste good, which is why most party foods heavily feature at least two, if not all three. A good festive snack usually offers some fun textures as well, like crispy, chewy, and/or melty. These air-fried devils have it all.
Devils on Horseback are a truly retro party snack that dates back to the 1800s. A dried fruit, such as a date or prune, is stuffed with cheese or nuts and wrapped with cured pork, then fried or baked. The cheese melts and the pork crisps, resulting in sweet and salty bite that hits all of your favourite flavour and textural notes. It’s a decadent little morsel, and making it in the air fryer allows you to access that decadence even faster.
To make Devils on Horseback, you need three things: Fruit, cheese, and pork. For the fruit, you can use pitted dates or prunes, though I always opt for dates. I also like using an aggressive blue cheese, for a funky note, but milder cheeses like Manchego, gruyere, or asiago can also be used. Both bacon and prosciutto crisp up deliciously — there is no wrong answer when it comes to the cured pork component.
Once you’ve made those tough decisions and gathered the necessary components, it’s time to stuff and wrap. Pry open the slit in your date, stuff it with a small hunk of cheese, and wrap it up in half a slice of bacon (or prosciutto). No need to secure with a toothpick. I air-fried these with and without toothpicks, and it didn’t make a lick of difference. Air fry in a single layer until the bacon is crisp, and serve hot (though they are not bad at room temperature).
These little parcels are ready in 10 minutes (at the most), a small temporal investment that makes them equally suited for swanky cocktail parties and casual movie marathons. The air fryer method is also more appropriate for sweltering summer days, as it doesn’t require an entire conventional oven, which heats up your house and uses far more energy than an air fryer. (I need that energy to power my air conditioner.)
Air Fried Devils on Horseback
What you’ll need:
- Pitted dates, as many as you want
- Bacon, half a slice per date
- Cheese, about a 1/2 teaspoon per date
Heat your air fryer to 360℉. Pry open the date — there should already be a little slit where they removed the pit. Stuff a piece of cheese inside; it’s OK if a little sticks out.
Grab your bacon. If you plan to make 12 devils, you will need 6 full strips, halved. Place each date at the end of a halved bacon slice and roll it up. Place it, seam side down, on the tray of your air fryer and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Serve immediately.
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