Swap Raisins For Dates In Your Oatmeal Cookies And Prepare To Be Wowed

Oatmeal raisin cookies wouldn't be the same without the raisins; in fact, they would be better. It might sound sacrilege and raisin lovers might take offense, but you should swap out those dried-up grapes that straddle the spectrum of sweet and sour, and instead use sweet, luscious dates. These babies are often referred to as nature's candy because of their naturally sugary taste, and once you make this change, you will never want to make your oatmeal cookies without them.

There are practical reasons to opt for dates over raisins when making your oatmeal cookies, but not for the reasons you probably think. Raisins and dates are really equals when it comes to nutrients. Dates contain a smaller sugar content compared to raisins and also have fewer calories, but raisins are higher in protein and carbohydrates. However, none of these slight to minimal differences are enough to lose sleep over. The reason to use dates over raisins in baking comes down to two of the most important aspects of any baked good: taste and texture.

Dried or fresh?

Raisins tend to be a tough and chewy element that can be a real turnoff in a cookie; however, when you bite into a date, your mouth immediately experiences the familiar sweet flavors of caramel and honey. But that's not the only thing you will love about dates: When you bake with them, they undergo a textural change, completely altering how your cookies look and taste. That's because they soften and almost melt into the cookie batter as they warm. Date oatmeal cookies transcend and elevate your whole experience of noshing on them.

To get started, you may be wondering if you should use dried or fresh dates. Most of the dates you find in the supermarket are considered dried dates which is what you want to use in baking. Fresh dates are delicate, smooth in appearance, and must be stored in the refrigerator. They also taste different. Fresh dates have a crispy, apple-like texture when you bite into them. In your baking endeavors, you will most likely use a dried date, but make certain they aren't too hard and chewy.

Chop your dates

There is an art to this swap and should not be approached haphazardly. To substitute dates for raisins, use a one-to-one ratio, but to get an accurate measurement, your dates need to be chopped. While it can be a rough chop, you do not want them to be too large or they will not seamlessly integrate into your batter. For this reason, slice up each date into quarters for a rough chop, or if you have time, do a fine chop. This is really a textural preference, and it may take making a batch or two and toying with a rough chop over a fine one to decide which you like better. But wherever you land with this decision, toss your chopped dates with a little flour. This extra step will help to avoid clumping so the dates are uniformly distributed through the cookie batter. You do not want to add the chopped dates until the very end of your mixing process when you will also add your oats.

Be picky about your dates

If you are going to incorporate dates into your oatmeal cookies, or any other baked good for that matter, you want to transform the final product from the ordinary to the decadent and extraordinary. For this reason, be picky and choose your dates wisely. You want quality, and while all dates are a little on the wrinkly side, you want to avoid those that are hard and old. Instead, you want your dates to be soft, but not squishy, and definitely pitted. Most dates are sold sans the pits; however, every so often you encounter one that was missed.

Medjool dates are like warm chocolate chips — soft, creamy, and melt as they bake and create a beautiful, sweet bite — so they are the perfect go-to for oatmeal cookies. If you cannot find any of the Medjool variety, Barhi dates are a worthy alternative. They complement the flavors of your cookies, bringing a touch of sweet cinnamon along with rich and buttery butterscotch. However, if you are looking for a more substantive, meaty, and delicious date, Deglet Noor dates are the way to go. They are a little dry and dense with a chewy texture. They are similar to a raisin when it comes to consistency, but the Deglet Noor date will still have that caramel taste that will up your oatmeal cookie game.