Skip The Sugar And Make A Date Caramel Sauce Instead

Caramel sauce is the ultimate sweet condiment, and while yes, hot fudge and whipped cream are also highly ranked, neither is used quite the same way. What all those condiments do have in common, however, is the fact that they're made with sugar — and a lot of it. They're also almost always made with dairy. When it comes to your caramel sauce, however, both of those elements can be omitted with one simple ingredient: dates.

Dates have been used in Middle Eastern cuisine for thousands of years and are known for their sweet, caramel-like flavor. In fact, date syrup is used as an alternative sweetener in everything from coffee to pancakes — and not just because it's sweet. As Healthline outlines, dates are chock-full of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. When soaked in boiling water and blended with a bit of non-dairy milk, vanilla extract, and salt, dates transform into a sugar-free, nutrient-packed caramel sauce alternative that works just as well on your sundaes as it will in your coffee.

If you don't have a blender at home, you can easily find date syrup at the store. Brands like Just Date, D'Vash, and Date Lady can be found at most grocery stores or purchased online. Date syrup can be used on its own as an alternative sweetener, but it can also serve as a shortcut ingredient for date caramel sauce, allowing you to skip the soaking and blending and get on with the mixing. 

Making your own date caramel sauce

Making any date caramel sauce starts with a basic date syrup. If you decide to go the homemade route, that will require a generous amount of your favorite dates — medjools are considered the best in this scenario, as they tend to be sweeter and softer. Pitted, boiled for about 10 minutes, strained, and blended until smooth, the only other ingredients you need are your go-to alternative milk, vanilla extract, and a bit of sea salt to balance out the flavor. 

Once you add the other ingredients to the blender, simply blend until they're all well combined. You also have the option to make your sauce into a spread by adding 3/4 of a cup of coconut milk to the mixture to thicken it. The spread will work well on toast, cake, ice cream, and essentially all the things you'd use basic caramel sauce for, just with a thicker — and admittedly less messy — consistency. Covered in a container, your homemade sauce or spread will last about a week in the fridge.