Dates are a natural sweetener. It's so easy to turn dried dates into a paste to add to smoothies, homemade nut milks, baked goods and more.
In my quest to find a better sweetener for baking I've tried coconut nectar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, bananas, stevia and honey (although I prefer to use honey in raw applications). All of these alternatives to processed sugar work well with minimal tweaks to the recipe. The other day as I was making almond milk sweetened with dates I thought "why not dates for baking?". I was going to buy date sugar but it's quite pricey so I decided to make my own, and while I was at it I made a batch of date paste. These are both easy to make and keep on hand when you want a little sweetness for baking, smoothies, nut milks, chia pudding, homemade granola and more. It's not a straight 1:1 replacement for white sugar when baking and does require a little testing.
You can use medjool dates for this but I opted to use smaller dried, pitted dates as they are more affordable.
Date Paste: An Alternative Sweetener
I'm purposely not providing quantities for this process. You can make as much or as little as you want, simply follow the instructions.
- Dates are rich in dietary fibre.
- Dates contain a range of vitamins including A, C, E, K, B-complex group.
- Dates are rich in the following essential minerals: iron, potassium, calcium, manganese and copper.
- food processor
- Pack dates into heat proof jar or mug. You want them to be packed in fairly tightly.
- Pour warm water over the dates, just enough to cover them. If you are better at planning than I am these can be soaked overnight. Simply pack the dates into a jar, cover with water, cover with a lid and let sit on the counter overnight.
- Let the dates sit for 15 - 30 minutes to soften.
- Pour dates and half of the water into a food processor or blender.
- Process the dates on high until smooth, about 4-5 minutes. You may be tempted to stop once the dates are broken down. Don’t. Keep processing. The colour will continue to lighten and the end product will be much smoother.
- If your date paste is too thick add some of the reserved soaking liquid until you get the desired consistency.
- Transfer the date paste into a covered jar and store in the refrigerator until needed.
- You can use whatever dates are available to you.
- It's easiest to use pitted dates, but if you have a dates with pits make sure to remove the pits before soaking.