If you hadn’t noticed, I’m a little obsessed with adding maple syrup to things.
Although I’m Canadian, I swear that this is a new thing for me. I think this obsession began sometime when I was in Australia, where it’s very very difficult (and expensive!) to get the real deal maple syrup. Sure, Costco stocked some variation of it, but I found theirs to be a lot more watery than the luscious amber liquid I had grown up with. It wasn’t as rich, it wasn’t as sweet, and it sure wasn’t worth the calories. Thankfully, my family took pity on me and sent me a couple of bottles in their first care package. Gotta love Canadian families, right? They know what’s important!
I guess I missed it more than I thought I would because since I’ve been back I’ve managed to add it to 50% of the recipes I’ve posted! I swear it wasn’t intentional. It just happened. But as I haven’t received any threatening messages thus far, I’m assuming you’ve all been okay with the maple syrup levels around these parts? Yes? Good, because I have another maple-infused recipe for you today!
My mom hates dates. And when I say “hates,” I actually mean that she would rather swim through the soul infested waters of Hades for the rest of her life than ever eat another date. I believe she said it was a “texture thing.” (My entire family has a thing about textures, but that’s a story for another day.) She does, however, love caramel. You know how I have a love for anything peanut butter and chocolate? That’s caramel for my mom. It’s her kryptonite. So when I said I was making a twist on dulce de leche, she was all over it. (I still haven’t told her I made this out of dates! Shhh.)
I’m sure you’ve seen date caramel sauces floating around the Internet and on Pinterest. All the recipes tend to be the same — whiz up some Medjool dates in a food processor until smooth and you have yourself a healthy, dulce de leche-type caramel sauce. So I tried it. I was so excited about the prospect of having a caramel sauce made from a natural sugar that I forgot to remind myself that this was a healthy recipe and it wasn’t going to taste like traditional dulce de leche. I took a small spoonful into my mouth to taste and… instant disappointment. It was mashed up dates. End of story. If I wasn’t even fooling myself into thinking this was caramel sauce, how on earth would I convince my mother? I had to jazz it up.
Enter my trusty maple syrup jug, some melted butter, and a little salt. BOOM. Amazing success!
I know what you’re thinking: “how is adding maple syrup, butter, and salt keeping this caramel sauce healthy?” Ah, my friend. You forget that I wasn’t necessarily going for a healthy caramel sauce; I was seeking a dulce de leche that didn’t involve processed sweetened condensed milk, refined sugar, or twelve million hours to make. (<– perhaps an exaggeration, but feels true.) This maple date caramel sauce only uses natural sugars — dates and pure maple syrup — a single tablespoon of butter for richness, and a little salt for taste. The couple extra ingredients really help date caramel play on the same field as regular caramel sauce. Plus, it only takes about ten minutes!
If you’re looking for a natural dulce de leche substitute, you will love this maple date caramel sauce. My mom did.
If you make my Maple Date Caramel Sauce recipe, be sure to take a photo and tag me @onlinefoodblog on Instagram or Twitter. I would love nothing more than to see your creations!
10 (165g) Medjool dates, pitted* *This recipe works best with soft, fresh dates. If your dates are a little old, try soaking them for 1--2 hours in room temperature water until softened. Proceed with the recipe as instructed.
How do you make Maple Date Caramel Sauce
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp (14g) unsalted butter, melted**
¼ tsp salt
**To make this caramel sauce vegan-friendly, substitute 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil for the butter.
If the caramel is a little hard from the refrigerator, you can make it softer by heating it in the microwave for 15 seconds.
Try out our Maple Date Caramel Sauce recipe and post your results below in the comments…
10 (165g) Medjool dates, pitted*
*This recipe works best with soft, fresh dates. If your dates are a little old, try soaking them for 1--2 hours in room temperature water until softened. Proceed with the recipe as instructed.