How to use dates to create a healthy sugar substitute perfect for those times when you want to indulge without the refined sugar. This date paste recipe is super easy to make and can be used in so many ways!
This post was originally published on 2/1/2014
Sugar has been a topic of debate for a while now, with so many schools of thought it’s hard to keep track. Am I going to die if I eat it? Will my kids become monsters? Sometimes I feel like the scare monger tactics out there are a little too much.
After some waffling on my part, I decided that sugar is not the atomic bomb it’s positioned to be. I mean, you shouldn’t be pouring it straight up down your throat, but a little sugar here and there will not kill you.
Natural Sweeteners for every day use
While I have no problem in indulging in regular sugar from time to time, I do have a sweet tooth so I try to use more natural sweeteners for my daily dessert cravings.
What are the most common natural sweeteners?
Glad you asked! There are a ton of options, ranging from totally natural to still better than white sugar. Everyone has an opinion (we are online aren’t we?) but here is my personal list of faves starting with the most natural:
- Date paste– this recipe, duh. Dates are a fruit and legit pure nature.
- Maple syrup– this comes from the maple tree and goes through a small process before getting to your kitchen, but overall it’s amazing. Probably in my top few sweeteners I use on a daily basis.
- Honey– yeah I know, not vegan. But as you may have read in my about me page, we eat plant based for health reasons and have no problem with honey. I like the flavor of maple better, so I don’t use honey as often, but it does have a spot in my pantry for its healthy nature.
- Coconut sugar– the browner the better when it comes to purer forms of sugar. While it is still sugar, the brown color means it still has it’s nutrients. When I need a dry sugar with a more brown sugar like flavor this is my go to. You can actually mix this with a bit of molasses and get a brown sugar texture too! Brandi from The Vegan 8 shows you how.
- Cane sugar– I use this when I want a dry sweetener that is close to regular sugar but still has a bit of it’s nutrients left. You’ll notice that it’s tan in color and not as dark as coconut sugar. I also love the look of this one so this is what I use when I need something sprinkled on top.
Date Paste: The Most Natural Sweetener Out There
You’re here for the date paste recipe so let’s get to it. It really is super easy, and I even have some ideas for you if you don’t have a blender or food processor.
How do you make homemade date paste?
Making date paste is really the only way to do it, do they even sell it? If they do, I can guarantee that it’s price marked disgustingly high because they can. All you need to make it at home are some good old dates and water (I have some other optional ingredients in the recipe below too).
- Pit your dates.
- Dump everything into a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth!
Is there a difference between Medjool dates and regular dates?
Medjool dates are the most widely used dates in recipes for a reason, they are easy to find, super soft and really sweet. But there are many other date varieties out there. The other two varieties that I see in stores are Deglet Noor and Barhi. See this link for some great info on all types of dates.
How long can you keep date paste?
Date paste is basically made of dates and dates last for about 6 months in the fridge. Even then they don’t necessarily go bad but they do dry out. For date paste, I tend to keep mine about a month max, stored in an air tight container in the fridge.
I also freeze it when I make a big batch and only take out a bit at a time to keep in the fridge.
How do you substitute date paste for sugar in baking?
There is a lot of info out there on this, but my humble opinion is that it really depends on the recipe. Baking is a science and when you alter one thing, you often have to play with others.
Date paste acts as both a sweetener and a thickener, so your baked goods can come out super dry if you don’t add more liquid. Also, the texture will change, especially when using it for dry sugar. Expect your baked goods to be softer.
So if you are good at experimenting, I’d start with a 1:1 ratio when subbing for a dry sugar. Make half a batch and adjust as needed. If you’re substituting for a wet sweetener like maple syrup or honey, you will probably need more date paste or an addition of water because the date paste is a thickener as well and will produce a drier result.
Go into it with the expectation that the end result won’t be as sweet or have the same texture and focus on the health benefit.
Recipes with dates
A better option, is to just make a recipe that already uses date paste. I have some recipes already that use date paste (or have a date paste option) or just dates. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookies
- Chunky Monkey Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Raisin Macadamia Nut Oat Cookies
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls
- Date Sweetened Brownies
- Apple Cinnamon Scuffins
- Yogurt Date Dip
- Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
- Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Pretzel Frosting
- Pumpkin Molasses Cupcakes
- Frothy Hot Chocolate with Pistachio Milk
- Raw Superfood Balls
- Raw Strawberry Margarita Cheesecake Cups
- Peanut Butter Cup Parfait
- Sriracha Tahini Fudge
For date paste on its own:
For date paste to use recipes:
- 24 pitted Medjool dates , about 2 cups packed (a little over a pound, see notes)
- ¾- 1 1/4 cup water , start with 3/4 and add more to get the consistency you want
For blender method:
- If using a high speed blender, put all ingredients inside and blend on high until smooth. You may need to stop and shake a little to get things moving but they will if you keep going.
- If using a regular blender, make sure to soak your dates in hot water for about 30 minutes before you make it so that they soften enough to get a smooth result.
For food processor method:
- Make sure your dates are soaked as mentioned above in order to get the smoothest results, then add everything into the food processor and blend until smooth. It will take longer with this method, but keep stopping and scraping down the sides.
For fork method:
- If you don't have either a blender or a food processor, soak your dates in hot water overnight. This will ensure they are as soft as possible.
- Add the soaked dates with the other ingredients into a bowl and use a fork to mash and mix. Continue to do this until you get a smoothish consistency. It won't be as creamy and smooth as using a blender but you will eventually get some date paste you can use.
- I usually use Medjool dates as they are soft and sweet and I can find them easily. Another good soft and sweet variety are the Barhi dates.
- If you use something other than Medjool in this recipe you may make a different amount of date paste depending on date size. It may also turn out less sweet depending on the kind you use.
- Make sure to take the pits out before using them.
- If you are not using a high speed blender, then you may want to soak your dates in hot water for about 30 minutes to soften them before you make it.
- Check out this great resource on the different types of dates. I use water in the paste I make for recipes but milk in the kind I use raw. I like the creaminess the milk adds when I eat it raw but prefer the water for my recipes as it is more neutral.
- This recipe makes just under 2 cups, serving size for the nutrition facts is 1/4 cup.
- Nutrition facts include the water option.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.