Joan adores dates. I can totally appreciate why she does, as to me, they are nature’s ultimate candy. They’re sweet, rich and energising, and completely satisfying if I’m low on energy or craving something sweet. It tickles me to see that Joan feels the same way. Sultanas? Nope, she’s very dubious. Dried figs, yeah, she enjoys them…but dates…dates, she loves.
When making smoothies together I give her a little portion of date to nibble, and I always throw a few in my bag for emergencies, like if she’s grizzling in the car or if she hurts herself and is inconsolable. In our attempts to gradually and gently wean bubba, I am finding dates are a wonderful breastmilk replacement, offering comfort and distraction from whatever has made my babe upset.
One hot afternoon last week, I had an urge to make a sweet and refreshing snack that required very little preparation and no time in the oven. Dates are delicious on their own, even more so with a spoonful of tahini, but on this day I wanted to do something a little different. The week prior I had been gifted some festive cookie cutters that I was keen on trying out, and I imagined a fast, freezer fudge made with dates + nuts + coconut oil would satisfy both my appetite and my desire for gingerbread people-shaped treats. As it turns out the date fudge was insanely easy to make and tasty to eat, but it fell short in appearance, as the gingerbread-people didn’t resemble people at all, rather brown blobs. Delicious blobs, indeed, but blobs nonetheless. So I set the cookie cutters aside, fashioned the fudge into squares and took our plate of snacks into the garden, where Joan and I sat with our feet on the grass and stuffed our faces with our happy food.
Date and Coconut Fudge
Notes: I had planned on making date and tahini fudge, but I was fresh out of tahini, so coconut came to the rescue. Adding a few tablespoons of tahini to the mix and cutting the desiccated coconut down would be, I predict, delicious. Feel free to play around with this base as you wish, throwing in some almond butter for creaminess and cacao nibs for crunch… A sprinkle of sea salt would most definitely be a good idea.
100g pitted dates*
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
3 tablespoons coconut oil (in it’s soft form, not liquid)
* I used dried dates here, but you could absolutely use Medjool. It would surely be even more delicious if you did! Just skip the step where you soften them in boiling water.
1. Place the dates in a shallow dish and pour 2-3 tablespoons boiling water over them. After a couple of minutes, turn them over so each date softens well.
2. Pour the dates and the water into a small food processor and blitz into a paste (some chunks are fine).
3. Add the desiccated coconut and coconut oil and blend until well-combined.
4. Pour the mix into a container lined with baking paper, pressing down firmly and smoothing the top. Choose whichever size container you like – a smaller one will make a deeper fudge and just take longer to set. I put mine in a mini pie dish that was ~10cm in diameter.
5. Place in the freezer, covered with overhanging baking paper, until set (mine took 30 minutes). Cut into shapes with cookie cutters if you like brown blobs, or cut into squares with a knife. Store the fudge in the freezer, as it will melt when left out.