I bought dates a while back... think January when I was in the middle of my health food kick, triggering my attempt at #Veganuary, which by the way, I could only survive for about 3 weeks until my body basically refused.
That said, I loaded up my cupboards and pantry with all kinds of healthy snacks like nuts and natural peanut butter and of course dates to use as a sugar alternative. I thought I’d make a sweet caramel sauce with them to drizzle on top of some banana and oat milk ice cream. Unfortunately, I never did that and I actually forgot all about them until I was cleaning my pantry this afternoon and realized that my package of dates needed to be used before the end of the month. Talk about stress.
While nothing beats a mascarpone stuffed date topped with salted sesame seeds and wrapped in prosciutto, these dates were a little past their prime. Brainstorming, I remembered that while you could put dates in a food processor with a splash of water to make a vegan caramel, you could also make another sugar substitute with dates!
If you know me, you know that I really love to dry fruits and polenta slices and just about anything so that it turns into a crunchy snack or flavoured dust that I can toss into baked goods or use for decorative purposes. Following the same dehydration method I typically use, I figured why not try my hand at making date sugar.
The results are pretty darn cool and I’d like to think that this is a healthy alternative given that this sugar alternative isn’t refined in the least. In fact, Medjool dates are even teeming with nutrients like vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, calcium, vitamin K, selenium and even folate which all help keep the body in tip top shape!
Another great thing about date sugar is that it has a sort of warm, buttery richness that differs a bit from traditional refined white sugar. And who doesn’t love a bit of added decadence?
Since making my batch of date sugar, I’ve added it to my coffee (hot and iced!), baked goods and just about anything else that needs an oomph of sweetness. The only thing I will advise is that for baking, use 2/3 cups of date sugar for every cup of white sugar you would use. Also, remember that this “sugar” has different properties, so it won’t melt quite the same and will also result in a darker colour when added to baked goods.
Try this recipe if you’re looking for a unique sugar substitute or happened to find a package of soon-to-be expired dates in your pantry!
. . .
DIY Date Sugar
*Makes about 1 cup*
2 cups dates
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Remove the seeds in your dates and chop in half.
Place the dates on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until fully dehydrated. They should be hard, with a little give.
Add cooled date pieces to a food processor and pulse into a dust.
Store in an airtight container or jar and use as a sugar substitute as needed!