This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure for more information.
Dates are a super nutritious natural sweetener full of caramelly good flavor. Pureeing them into this delicious date paste makes them easy to use in lots of ways.
Dates used to scare me. I hate to say it, but I always thought they looked like cockroaches. Ick- not interested.
But then I read how many nutrients there are in dates. Interested.
Then I heard that when pureed, dates become a caramel-like elixir. Very interested.
So of course I had to give them a try. I was sold immediately. And although I still think they look like cockroaches (they do!) I’m a big fan and frequently have a jar of date paste in my fridge.
Let me tell you how I make it and how I use it. I know you’re gonna want to try it too.
Making Date Paste
This is really more of a method than a recipe.
First thing to know: There are different varieties of dates you can use, and any will work fine. My favorite are medjool dates. The fresher they are, the more gooey and caramelly they are. I like to get mine at Costco, they are the freshest ones I’ve found.
Once you get your dates home you’ll need to pit them. Super easy. Just slice the side of the date with a sharp knife, split it open and pull out that pit and discard. Drier dates will open kind of like a book while the gooshier ones you may have to dig a bit.
Also, remove any little nubbins (stems?) on the ends. No hard pieces needed here.
Put all of your dates into a bowl or other container. Next you’re going to heat some water till steamy but not boiling and pour it over your dates until almost covered. I say ‘almost covered’ because once the water is in the bowl you can push the dates down and they’ll settle in just fine.
Let the dates sit for anywhere from 10-30 minutes (the time really depends on the freshness of your dates). Drier dates should sit longer, gooier ones less. The goal is to soften them up to make them ready to blend.
You can use a strong blender or food processor for this step. I have a Ninja blender and it works well. Whatever you’re using, go ahead and add your dates–just the dates (we’re saving the water, don’t dump it!) to the blender/processor.
Add a little bit of the reserved date-soaking water, just a few tablespoons-1/4 cup to begin with (you’ll add more later if needed), and a splash of good vanilla. The vanilla gives the paste an even stronger caramel flavor. It’s a very important ingredient. YUM!
Now just blend it up. You may need to open the top a few times to push down any dates sitting on top or add more water (I added about 1/3-1/2 cup to this batch). And let that puree go for awhile. You want a silky smooth paste, and that takes a little time…several minutes.
Storing and using your date paste
I like to store my date paste in Mason jars. And kept in the fridge, I’ve read that it will last for a few months. I wouldn’t know…it’s never lasted that long at my house.
So how do you use this caramelly goodness, you ask?
My favorite way is in smoothies. Any smoothie you’re making, just add a big scoop and you’ve upped the nutritional value immediately (as well as the sweetness). Dates are full of nutrients like fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B and more.
Here are two of my favorite smoothies:
Banana Caramel Smoothie
- 1 frozen banana, broken into pieces
- 2 big spoonfuls of date paste
- a sprinkle of cinnamon
- a tablespoon of ground flaxseed (if I’ve got it)
- almond milk (or any milk)
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/2 cup any frozen fruit (or omit banana and use 1 cup any frozen fruit)
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1 big spoonful date paste
- 1/4 cup oatmeal (optional)
- giant handful of baby spinach (1-2 cups)
- almond milk (or other milk)
You can also make a pseuo-milkshake that is to die for. In fact, there was one summer when my ultra picky kids ate date paste by the spoonful and we made these milkshakes at least 3 times a week. (Of course I called it caramel, not date paste, I’m not an idiot.) We were getting raw milk from a local farm that summer and always had lots on hand to use up.
Healthy Caramel ‘Milkshakes’
- Freeze milk in ice cube trays, empty and store cubes in Ziploc bags in the freezer.
- Add as many cubes as you’d like to your blender.
- Top with several big scoops of date paste.
- Pour in milk until cubes are just covered.
- Blend until smooth.
You could make this a tasty frappuccino-type drink by pouring cold brewed coffee over everything instead of more milk. Divine!
I know I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to using date paste. I just haven’t gotten around to doing much more with it because I always use it up with these things. Some things I’m looking forward to trying:
- Swirling in yogurt or oatmeal
- Use as a spread inside my favorite cinnamon rolls instead of butter and sugar
- Baking with it
Have you used date paste? What do you like to do with it?
This recipe, like all my recipes, is shared in the Meal Plan Monday link up. You can find the link in my sidebar – or right here!