The Best Date (Recipe) Ideas for Valentine's Day

We are talking about the palm fruit, not a romantic walk on the beach.

Valentine's Day is a great excuse to eat your favorite sweets, send cheesy handmade cards to your loved ones and sport your favorite sweater covered in hearts. But for some of us, it can also be a hard day to resist those sugary treats. Even natural sugars like honey or agave nectar can spike up your glucose levels.

If you're going to consume sugar, the best way is by eating fruit. I have a big sweet tooth (it's hard to resist a soft, chewy cookie), so this can be a bit of problem. I've tried several dessert recipes sweetened with banana and other fruits, and it just doesn't do it for me. Cue dates. This sweet palm fruit tastes like caramel once it's made into a paste, so it got me thinking "What desserts can I make with this paste?"  I searched the interwebs high and low (okay, just Pinterest) and tested several recipes sweetened only with dates. Keep reading to see my top 4 picks.

Note: Each recipe needs date paste. To save time, make a big batch by placing Medjool dates in a food processor and blending until it forms a paste. You can store the paste in a freezer-safe container for up to two weeks.

5-Ingredient Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup 100% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Yield: 20 truffles


Instructions:

1. Blend dates in a food processor until they form a ball or use 1 1/2 cups premade paste. Add sea salt, and blend to disperse evenly.

2. Scoop out and roll into balls about one inch thick. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and let sit in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

3. Once set, drizzle peanut butter on top of each date ball. Place back in the freezer for another 15-20 minutes. If your peanut butter is too firm, mix it with a little coconut oil and microwave to melt. 

4. In a bowl, melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave with one tablespoon coconut oil at 20 second intervals. 

5. Remove truffles from freezer, and submerge each into the melted chocolate using a fork. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

6. Sprinkle the tops with sea salt if desired, and place in freezer for 30 minutes or until set. Serve cold or at room temperature. To keep fresh, store in a freezer-safe container.

Recipe courtesy of Minimalist Baker

Mock Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates
  • 1 egg (or sub 3 tablespoons water and one tablespoon flax meal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Yield: 12 small cookies

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the tahini, dates and water in a saucepan over low heat. Cover until dates are warmed through. Pour date mixture into a food processor, and process until smooth.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well combined. The dough should be thick and sticky. Roll the dough into balls about one-inch thick (you may need to wet your hands to prevent sticking). Press each ball down evenly on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. To create a criss-cross design, dip fork tines into water, then press into the dough in a cross pattern. 

3. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies rise.

Recipe courtesy of Worth Cooking

Nut + Oat Chewy Granola

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup well chopped raw nuts (I used almonds and walnuts)
  • 15 Medjool dates, pitted (other varieties won't work for this recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon natural nut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup 100% dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Yield: 12-16 bars, depending on size

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line a 9x9 cake pan with parchment paper. Place oats in a food processor or blender, and pulse for 5-10 seconds until most of the oats are completely ground. Toast on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, stirring once until golden brown. Remove and let cool.

2. Place finely chopped nuts on baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, stirring once until lightly toasted. Remove and let cool.

3. While those are cooling, place pitted dates in the food processor until smooth or use 3/4 cup premade paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

4. Stir in coconut oil, nut butter and vanilla with the date paste until well combined. Add cooled oats, nuts, chocolate, cinnamon and salt. Mix well with your hands. The mixture should look crumbly but should stick together when held.

5. Empty mixture into the parchment-lined pan. Spread evenly to edges and corners, pressing firmly with palms until completely flat. 

6. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool for one hour, then refrigerate for at least two hours. To remove from pan, lift up the edges of the parchment paper. Carefully slide granola from parchment paper to a cutting board before cutting into squares.

Recipe courtesy of Edible Perspective

Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Yield: 8 ounces

Instructions:

1. Blend dates and hot water in a food processor or blender until smooth or use 1/2 cup premade date paste.

2. Add coconut milk and vanilla to the food processor, and blend until everything is well combined. The mixture should be smooth.

3. If you don't want bits of dates in your beverage, run the creamer through a fine-mesh strainer before use. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Recipe courtesy of Running With Spoons

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