What you might think of as a canapé restricted to the seventies and something your mum used to make for cocktail parties, is in fact a match made in heaven for mulled wine. Sticky, sweet and salty, bacon wrapped prunes, nibbled in between sips of warm, syrupy, spiced red wine, is actually darn good. And as Christmas in July is fast approaching, devils on horseback might just be the perfect little morsels for your gathering, to accompany aforementioned hot wine or tipple of your choosing. So delicious in fact, you’ll wonder why you’ve never made them before.
The great thing that I have discovered about devils on horseback is that, aside from the traditional recipe, there are great many ways to personalise this hors d’oeuvre. Instead of prunes, the classic fruit of choice, dates or apricots can be used. The selected fruit can be steeped in a bath of tea, black, Earl Grey or otherwise or alcohol, like sherry, brandy or whisky, even alcohol spiked tea, before being stuffed with a variety fillings. Whole almonds for a little bit of crunch, mango chutney to give a gooey centre, or cheese for a salty punch. Prosciutto or pancetta will work just as well as bacon to wrap up the final fruity parcel.
Cold Christmases have been the norm for the better half of my life to date and I still can’t quite get used to celebrating Christmas in the sunshine here in Australia. I site this as the reason I get so excited about Christmas in July. A dinner party, mid way through the year, when the weather is cold and overeating in the company of friends is a very acceptable pastime. Roast root vegetables, caramelised and crisp, big joints of meat, theatrically carved at the table, ripe, oozy white rind cheese, golden pastry, dried fruit, toasted nuts and warming mulled wine. Preceded by multiple nibbles.
This year I have an inkling that I’m going to prepare a smorgasbord of glistening devils on horseback to serve with drinks before the pseudo Christmas dinner. Like a box of chocolates without a little card to tell you what you’ve chosen, it will keep people guessing what selection they’ve made. Or I might just make some tonight to go with a glass of red. A late night, après supper treat, sweet and savoury, to snack on in front of the fire.
Devils on horseback
A somewhat classic recipe with the addition of one of my favourite blue vein cheese, Cambozola.
- prunes, stones removed
- streaky bacon
- Cambozola cheese
Arrange the bacon side by side in a line. Take a small amount of Cambozola and stuff it into the cavity of a prune. Now lay the cheese filled prune at one end of a strip of bacon. Roll the bacon neatly around the sticky black fruit and secure with a toothpick. (I used half a rasher of bacon for each prune.) Repeat as many times as needed and there you have it. Devils on horseback.
Cook under a hot grill for 5 minutes each side and serve with mulled wine.
The following is for 1 bottle of wine. Simply double or triple the quantites depending of how much you are making.
- 1 bottle red wine
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 cup apple juice
- strips of zest from a lemon and mandarin-use a peeler
- 6 cloves
- 1/2 a nutmeg, grated
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 inch piece ginger, sliced
- 1 small piece star anise
- 4 cardamon pods
Very simply, put all the ingredients in a pot and heat very gently for at least 20 minutes. Do not boil the wine. Now, turn off the heat and leave the wine to infuse for an hour or so. Once again, gently reheat and serve in glasses. With devils on horseback.
Enjoy cheese and red wine? then you might like gougers, cheesy bite size balls of choux pastry