Date syrup and paste
Dates also have many nutritional benefits, particularly when compared with many other sweeteners and are also very popular with raw foodists. Without going into great detail here; dates are a rich source of dietary fibre, iron and a number of minerals, and are also very rich in antioxidant flavonoids offering protection to the cells in the body. For me the biggest reason to use them- they are a wholefood form of sweetener.
I use a lot of dates, particular in their raw form in my smoosh bar varieties, so I have bought a large box in bulk making for an economical syrup. I use organic deglet noor dates, but either deglet noor or medjoul dates (which are larger and slightly more juicy) should work fine. Medjoul may even be preferable but since I haven’t yet tried using these dates I cannot confirm this.
You can either make a date paste or a syrup simply depending on how much water you add. Paste like syrups work better at binding things together whereas a looser syrup works best to spoon over or mix through- i.e spooning over the sticky toffee pudding…Mmmmm!
Since dates naturally have a caramelly, toffee like flavour they make the perfect sweetener for a toffee or caramel flavoured dessert, this can be enhanced with other sweeteners such as brown rice syrup when a very sweet caramelly flavour is required in a desert, but on their own they provide a lovely subtle sweetness. I also add a touch of vanilla extract to the syrup to subtly enhance the flavour, but other flavours or spices could be used too.
The date syrup pictured used 1 cup of water.
Recipe: date paste/syrup
- 1 heaped cup of dates (I used 1 heaped cup to compensate for the fact the dates were whole and not packed in- so you want to visually aim for a fairly packed cup)
- ½ cup hot water-
- for a thick paste
- 1 cup hot water-
- for a thick syrup ( used this for my granola bars)
- 1.5 cups hot water
- - for a smoother easily spoon-able syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract- optional
Place the dates in a small/medium bowl. Pour the required amount of boiling water over the dates and leave to soften for approx. 30 minutes. Once softened pour the contents of the bowl, along with a little vanilla extract, in to a blender (I used my thermomix) and blend until smooth.
Pour the syrup into a jar and store in the fridge if not using straight away. This keeps for at least two weeks in sealed container.
Note: the more water used the more 'dilute' the dates become and therefore less sweet the syrup. If you are afer a sweet syrup you may like to add a little stevia or brown rice syrup also.