Yes, date ideas. No, this is not that kind of blog. We’re talking about the fruit. Things to do with dates, because they are versatile and delicious, so it’s only right we actively come up with new ideas on how to use them (though they are great on their own, too).
My favourite type is Medjool variety, as you have no doubt noticed if you’ve read any of the recipes on Conscientious Cookie using dates. They’re larger and sweeter than other dates. That’s why they are superior.
Here’s 5 ways that I like to use dates:
1) Chopped, in muffins or cakes. Especially with gluten-free breads, I find anything added to the batter helps improve texture.
2) Blended, into smoothies (goes really well with bananas!)
3) Minced, and added to salads, granola, or any breakfast cereal.
4) Processed, with nuts or seeds and dried fruit and rolled into “energy balls”.
5) Made into date caramel or syrup (depending on how much water you add) as an alternative sweetener. Substitute date caramel for toppings or fillings in desserts, and date syrup for agave or maple syrup in a recipe.
There’s my date caramel being swirled into the banana batter.
I like the swirl effect in baked goods. It looks special but the secret is it’s actually really easy. Just bring your spatula through the batter like the way the 4-year old you used to draw in colouring books (no? only me?) Now you have a super awesome-looking cake. And all you did was mix some colours. Wicked.
Caramel Swirl Banana Cakevegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, corn-free, refined sugar-free
1 cup Medjool dates (8-10), soaked in just enough water to cover (reserve soaking water)
salt, to taste
10 oz. gluten-free flour mix (I use brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and coconut flour in mine)
2.5 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, room temp
1 cup coconut palm sugar
3 small bananas, mashed
2 egg replacements (leavening)
2-3 Tbsp rice milk
For date caramel: in a high-speed blender or food processor, blend the dates with reserved soaking water. Add extra water, if needed, while blending. Add salt to taste. Place in the fridge until needed.
For cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang, and spray lightly with oil. Set aside.
Whisk together flour mix, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together coconut oil and sugar until creamy, 3-4 minutes. Beat in mashed bananas, then the egg replacements, until combined.
Gently stir in flour mixture until almost combined. Add enough rice milk to thin out batter to an easily spreadable consistency, but not too much that it becomes liquid-y.
Evenly spread out batter in pan. Scoop out half the date caramel and swirl through batter using a knife or spatula.
Bake 50-55 minutes, until center is set and edges of cake pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
Before slicing and serving, spread out the remaining date caramel on top of the cake. Alternatively, slice the cake first and serve alongside. Or, if you want to get fancy, slice the cooled cake horizontally and gently spread caramel as a sandwich layer between the two halves.
Yield: one 8-inch square cake (16 servings)