Five Ways With Whole Pitted Dates
Dates are a magically moreish, multi-purpose ingredient that can help boost flavour and raise snacks, starters, desserts, mains and baked goods to a whole new level. A key ingredient amongst the new breed of healthy bakers and chefs, dates are a great substitute for refined sugar and are a godsend for those looking to conjure up some slightly healthier cakes, cookies, energy bars or breakfasts.
This month Stuart Ascott, Chef Lecturer at West Suffolk College has shared five delicious ways to use Country Range Whole Pitted Dates.
- Date Bake
A brilliant ingredient for all manner of baked goods – whether cake, biscuit, pastry, flan or tart but for me I adore using dates in my chocolate chip cookie recipe. They are a great way of making your cookies a bit healthier and also ensure you get a beautiful chewy consistency.
- Supremely Sticky
Possibly the most famous British way to enjoy dates and a firm fixture on menus not just across the UK but around the world – you just can’t beat a Sticky Toffee Pudding done well. You would be surprised how many people don’t even realise there are dates in it. I have followed a Gary Rhodes recipe since my early days as a chef and it has never let me down. The key is a light date sponge. There is always a bit of controversy on the sauce but for me it’s butterscotch over toffee every time.
- Awesome African
Switch out the prunes or apricots and add dates to your tagine instead. They work beautifully to balance the spices, thicken the sauce and add sweetness. You can also chop them up and add to them to your couscous.
- Energy Snacks
A massive trend in recent years on social media and amongst the health brigade and fitness fanatics, energy or power balls are great for some get-up-and-go or just for a special treat. I love using dates as they provide a satisfying stickiness and can also be used to reduce the refined sugar content of your creations.
- Saucy Date
When cooked down and used to make a syrup, puree or chutney, dates provide a unique sweetness but also a silky consistency. I love making a puree to accompany a chicken terrine or using them alongside some in-season fruit such as pears to make a chutney.
About Stuart Ascott
It was only as an architecture student working part-time in the catering industry that Stuart Ascott realised he was on the wrong career path and the food and the people-centric atmosphere of hospitality, was drawing him in.
Stuart quit his course, took a job in a local kitchen and never looked back. He worked at The George in Dorchester before working as a chef around France and Spain before arriving back in Suffolk, working for various restaurants. After being asked to mentor some local teenagers for a ‘Passion to Inspire’ competition, Stuart caught the teaching bug, retrained and became a Chef Lecturer at West Suffolk College in 2015. Immensely passionate about developing the next generation of young chefs, Stuart’s latest trio of young student chefs – Harry Falkingham, Harry Bennington and Millie Smith – reached the Country Range Student Chef Challenge Final in 2022.
Country Range Whole Pitted Dates
Pack size: 3kg