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.
- 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.
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.
- Let the dates sit for 15 minutes to soften.
- Pour dates and water into a food processor.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.