All about date paste!! A complete guide to this natural healthy sweetener with my top quick and easy blending tip, VIDEO tutorial, and tons of uses and recipe ideas.
Would you believe that a couple of years ago I didn’t like dates? In fact, they kind of freaked me out with their jumbo-sized raisin resemblance. Worse was how they seemed to be essential for nearly every single raw dessert recipe on the internet. And there is no perfect sub for them either. If that sounds like you and yet somehow you are here reading this, don’t leave yet! I have some tips for making the jump from date hater to date lover at the end of this post just for you.
Nowadays I have to consciously refrain from putting them in every single baked or raw recipe on FOF. They add moisture, they add natural sweetness, they add a slight caramel flavor–why wouldn’t you want all those things in every baked good ever? But I get it, some people don’t. You will still see them pop up in a large percentage of my recipes, most of the time blended with some sort of liquid to make the ever-so-verstatile date paste!
And that is what this post is all about. My best tips and techniques, the right ratio, a video tutorial, recipes, and more! With how much I love date paste and how often I use it, this really should’ve been the first post on FF, but better late (and with much more attractive photos than if it was actually my first post) than never!
Dates + water.
Preferably Medjool dates, those are my go-to with more moisture and sweetness than smaller Deglet Noir (a.k.a. baking dates), but any will work since you are going to be blending them up anyways.
Soaking. If your dates are exceptionally dry or if you don’t have a high powered blender, soaking them for 30 minutes to an hour in warm water before blending can make things much easier on your blender and lead to a smoother finished product. I personally do not usually bother. If I am soaking them for a recipe, I will usually do so in the exact amount water/liquid called for and then just throw all of that in the blender together as opposed to draining and adding more liquid to blend. This way you avoid adding too much moisture. You can always add more liquid while blending, but you can’t take it away.
The ratio. This will vary slightly with how squishy vs. dry your dates are and the type, but I usually start with a 3:2 ratio of dates to water. So for simplicity (and for many of my recipes) that comes out to be 1 cup dates to 2/3 cup water.
Dates are a little awkward to measure out, so if you are using medium sized Medjool dates than 10-12 dates is equal to about 1 cup. If you are using smaller dates it will obviously be more. If you are using a cup measure, be sure to really pack them in. If you are measuring by weight, 1 cup of dates (before pitting) would be roughly 160-170 grams.
And I think this goes without saying, but pit the dates first. Nothing is worse than having to dunk your hand into a blender full of half-blended date paste and rummage around for that one pit that slipped by.
The goal. When it comes to baking and most applications, you want a really smooth but also really THICK date paste. That means more concentrated date sweetness and moisture per cup of date paste. No watered down not-very-sweet stuff, please! So my goal is to keep the date paste as thick as possible but still able to blend. Walk that fine line.
Dates + water + high speed blender.
That is the best combination for making date paste. You can use a food processor, but it will never get quite as smooth I have found. For using in recipes it’s no big deal, but for frostings and puddings and things that are supposed to be really creamy it’s not ideal.
My #1 tip! Obviously a high speed blender is best for this job, but even in my Vitamix it can be tricky sometimes. My number one tip for blending up the perfect date paste is turn on the blender and turn it up to high speed right away. This way it is vigorously blending and pulverizing those fibrous dates while there is the most liquid around the blades and the best flow. Blending on high will actually turn the date paste a lighter shade of brown, but it will return to a deep caramel color a few minutes after blending.
Eventually it will probably stop moving on high speed, but most of the chunks will be gone by then. I like to stop, give it a little shake/stir, and then blend for an extra 10-20 seconds on low (it will stop again if you go too high) just to ensure it is as smooth as possible. I actually rarely use a tamper when making date paste, once you get the technique down you won’t need to.
If you blend on low speed to start, it will quickly get stuck and you will still be left with chunks of dates hiding amidst the caramel-colored paste. Then your only option is to add more water, use a tamper to help it along, or blend on low for a long time to try to eliminate as many chunks as possible.
Thicker date paste, no chunks, and it’s faster to make–I highly suggest you give the straight-to-high-speed method a shot!
Date Paste Nutrition Stats
I don’t usually include nutritional information with my recipes, that is a very intentional choice. But since this is meant to be a thorough guide and I realize some people like to know, I thought I would include a quick nutritional breakdown here.
For the entire batch:
Calories – 822
Fat – 0g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Sodium – 24mg
Potassium – 1686mg
Carbohydrate – 198g
Fiber – 18g
Sugar – 180g
Protein – 6g
As for the micronutrients, dates and date paste are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and iron!
Uses & Recipes
Where to begin, there are so many! Date paste is naturally very sweet, so it will bring sweetness to anything you use it in. But that is not all it can do.
Date paste can…
-Sweeten and thicken creamy puddings and sauces
-Sweeten and add moisture to low-fat baked goods like cookies, cupcakes, or brownies
-Be the glue for healthy breakfast bars
-Sweeten raw and no-bake treats
-Sweeten frozen treats and keep them from freezing too solid
-Be the sweet base for frostings and spreads
-Sweeten your morning oats
-Fill a streusel-sprinkled tart
-Be the base for flourless baked treats
-Coat a crunchy sweet-tart caramel apple
-Be swirled up inside cinnamon rolls
-Make a killer caramel sauce
My faves. Of everything I’ve ever made with date paste, my two favorite recipes have to be these Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes and this Monkey Bread Mug Cake. So if you are completely new to baking with date paste, than I highly recommend starting with one of those to see what this sweet stuff is all about!
More delicious date paste recipes from around the web…
Vegan Sticky Toffee Pumpkin Pudding from Radiant Rachels
Cold Brew Caramel Frappuccino from Minimalist Baker
Four Ingredient Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies from Feeding Your Beauty
Vegan Gluten-Free Date Squares from Nadia’s Healthy Kitchen
Date-Sweetened Banana Bread from Sweet Simple Vegan
And if you are still in need of more date-sweet inspo, check out this epic roundup of 65 recipes all sweetened with dates -> The Ultimate Vegan Date-Sweetened Roundup
The ultimate natural, healthy, fruit-based sweetener made from 2 simple ingredients and in just minutes!
- 1 cup Medjool dates (packed, about 10-12)
- 2/3 cup water
- Pit the dates.
- Add to a blender with the water.
- Turn on the blender and immediately turn the speed up to high. This will help break down the dates quickly so your date paste is smooth and chunk-free without having to add more water to get it to blend.
- If it really won’t blend, stop, shake it, and try again. Add more water only if absolute necessary.
- Once it is smooth, transfer to an airtight jar/container. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
Don’t Like Dates?
Well I wasn’t born with a natural affinity for them either. But they are so versatile and one of the best secrets to baking heathy sugar-free treats! It was a process for me too, so here are my tips for learning to love them…
1. Don’t look at them very much. Yes, yes, I know that there is beauty in every bit of nature and all that jazz, but let’s be honest they are not going to win an award for prettiest fruit anytime soon. I would give them an award for sweetest though! Close your eyes if you have to, just give them a chance to let their sweet caramel flavor work it’s magic on your tastebuds.
2. Buy from a trusted source. There are enough horror stories out there about things people find in dates (or say they do, don’t google it), so buy from a trusted source. I always use the Natural Delights brand and have never had any issues.
3. Blend them. Smoothies, lattes, frappuccinos, ice cream–these things are only made sweeter by the addition of dates. Even just plain date paste can be a delicious spread, dip, or by-the-spoonful treat. Adding a few dates to blender recipes with lots of other ingredients will give the date flavor a chance to grow on you without being overpowering.
4. Bake (or no-bake) with them. Similar to the blender tip, sneaking dates into recipes surrounded by lots of other ingredients let’s your tastebuds get used to the subtle date flavor. Plus you will see just how amazingly versatile they are! No-bake date snacks were a huge help for me too. Dates made into bliss ball or bar form lessens the textural weirdness of the straight fruit.
5. Pair them with chocolate. In all cases of the the above two steps (sipping or snacking), chocolate is a good idea. Dates and chocolate are lovely together! Cacao brings the bitter, dates bring the sweet. Just think caramel + chocolate, but healthier.
6. Eat less refined sugar. This is a big one. Sugar messes with your tastebuds giving them unnatural expectations of how sweet things should be. And you crave what you know. Now I’m not perfect here, I use plenty of maple syrup and coconut sugar, but if you don’t eat a lot of other sugars then dates really can start to taste candy-sweet.
Tastebuds are very adaptable, which is what makes this whole date love process possible. It only took me a few months!
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