It's raining and very cold and grey today in the South of France. If it were a few degrees colder we'd be watching snow fall but to the childrens' great displeasure all the snow is in other parts of France.
What I need is a bit of sunshine and since it's not coming from the sky I've decided to make my own with one of my favorite Christmas treats; clementines with dates and sugared, spiced marscapone cheese. I adapted this from a Martha Stewart Living recipe card years ago. It's Christmas in your mouth. Droplets of sweet sunshine.
Clementines, Dates & Sugared, Spiced Marscapone
a dozen or so pitted dates
1 250g container Italian marscapone cheese
1/4-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 c. or 75g powdered sugar/confectioner's sugar (mostly to taste and stiffness)
optional: you can add splash of pure vanilla extract or make it grown-up with a bit of brandy
This is really easy because it's only mixing the sugar with the marscapone cheese to the sweetness you like and until it's stiff enough to plop into the hollowed-out dates or scoop up with clementine segments. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla or brandy if you like and mix well.
The hardest part is pitting the dates because it gets really sticky. My kids love to help with this part.
Peel and section clementines.
You can serve this already assembled with a dollop of marscapone inside a hollowed out date with a crown of clementine or make it easy on yourself and leave the assembly for the table. If you do this, simply arrange the clementine segments on a platter with the sweetened, spiced marscapone in the middle and the dates opened or halved all around.
ps I served this for M&Mme Bons Amis last weekend after a lunch of lasagna and they loved it. It's very light and bright and unexpectedly lovely in its simplicity.