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Healthy plant-based recipes full of good stuff whilst being free from refined sugars and wheat. The food blog is a space to kickstart your inner creativity!

It’s all about...dates, dates, dates!

I use dates a lot!! 

Particularly this last month or so, as I cut out syrups of all kinds during lent in a bid to use only whole food sweeteners, and to be honest I have enjoyed keeping this up! That’s not to say I won’t use agave, brown rice syrup or maple syrup ever again, I have simply enjoyed the challenge of not relying on these foods.



Dates have therefore become by go-to versatile sweetener above and beyond bananas or other dried fruits on the basis they are so neutral in taste and still pack a lot of sweetness in to a small bite.

I have written a few posts about various homemade date products before, but I figured it made sense to do a bit of a round up here with all the basic recipes in one place for easy reference, plus this old date paste post was in need of a little refresher (and much better photos!)

I’d love to hear how you use dates and other dried fruits in your baking?

Date paste

Recipe: Date paste

Ingredients 

1 packed 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
1 tsp vanilla extract- optional

Method

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.

Spoon the paste into a jar and store in the fridge if not using straight away.  This keeps for at approx 1 month in a sealed container.




date syrup


Recipe: Date syrup 


Ingredients 

1 packed 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)
1.5 cups hot water- for a smoother easily spoon-able syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract- optional
1/4 tsp pure liquid stevia (to gove back sweetness diluted by the water)

Method

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.




date sugar


Recipe: Date sugar

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

3 cups fresh dates (I used deglet noor- so as big and sticky as medjool)
1-2 tsp starch (I used arrowroot but others will also work)

Method

Halve the dates and lay them in a single layer on a lined baking sheet.

Place in the oven on the lowest temperature (mine was approx 50C) and ‘bake’ for about 3 hours, turn the oven off and allow to cool whilst still in the oven. I left mine in their overnight. They should end up much harder and dryer.

Placed in a high powered food processor (I used a Thermomix) and blitz on high for 30 seconds. Add 1 tsp of starch and blitz for another 30 seconds.

At this stage I lots of small clumpy grains that were still a little sticky. Lay this mixture out on the baking sheet once again in an even layer and bake at a low temp for another hour until the mixture is very hard to the touch.

Once fully cool, re blend the mixture in the processor adding a touch more starch if necessary (the starch helps to prevent clumping).  You could also add other flavours such as vanilla or cinnamon here if desired.

Once the date sugar is as fine as you can get it and there is no moisture present. Pour into an airtight storage container for future use. You will find that the date sugar hardens together over time which is normal. Use a fork to loosen for use.

Notes: you may find that if you are able to ensure the dates are rock hard from the first bake the resulting sugar will be fine enough from the first blend without the need for re-baking. You can also use a dehydrator to achieve the same affect. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
 

I also use ground dates as the basis for these breakfast sprinkles.




Here is a little list of a few of my date sweetened recipes:

Bakes Apple Oatmeal

Chewy Buckwheat Clusters

Spiced Apple Pancakes with Date and Walnut

Toffee Granola Bars

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes

Dark Chocolate Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding


For further guidance on making gluten free choices please see this post.

For tips and info on recipe measurement conversions, ingredients, substitutions and the methods behind how I do things.... check out my 'baking tips' tab at the top of the page.
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