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, avocado pudding…. It’s not a straight 1:1 replacement for white sugar when baking and does require a little testing. Note: These are not good for tea or coffee as the dates just don’t dissolve like sugar.

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.

  1. Pack dates into heat proof jar or mug. You want them to be packed in fairly tightly.
  2. Pour warm water over the dates, just enough to cover them.
    Note: 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.
  3. Let the dates sit for 15 minutes to soften.
  4. Pour dates and water into a food processor.
  5. Process the dates on high until smooth, about 4-5 minutes. You may want to stop once the dates are broken down. Don’t. Keep processing. The colour will lighten a bit and the end product will be much smoother.
  6. Transfer the date paste into a covered jar and store in the refrigerator until needed.
    Note: If you want a thicker paste use less water when processing. Similarly, if you want a thinner paste add more water.

Nutrition

  • 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.
Source:
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/dates.html

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