Text and photos by Sue Burns, It’s Okay to Eat the Cupcake

Sticky Toffee Date Cake seems to be a dessert most often served during the holiday season, but I think that we should enjoy it all year long, don’t you? Why should we have to wait all the way until December for the rich, gooey sweetness that it offers? I have an idea … let’s give it a healthier spin and eat it for breakfast! Start your new year back-to-school and work mornings with a comforting bowl of Sticky Toffee Oatmeal. My easy Date Jam is perfect in your morning oats and can be served in many more delicious dishes.

Yes, dates are healthy. They are a dried fruit, so their sugars are concentrated. This means that they are very sweet and high in calories, so moderation is key. However, their sweetness and texture make them an excellent replacement for sugar in baking (you can make date paste and even buy date sugar). Dates are high in fiber and contain antioxidants and several nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, iron and vitamin B6. Some studies have also shown that when consumed during the last weeks of pregnancy, dates may facilitate and ease natural labor for pregnant women. Wow!

Date Jam

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh dates, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a pot, stir together the maple syrup, water and cinnamon, and bring to a boil.
  2. When the mixture begins to boil, remove from the heat and stir in the chopped dates.
  3. Allow the mixture to sit for about an hour, until cooled and the dates have absorbed some of the liquid.
  4. Using an immersion blender, purée the dates and liquid in the pot until you have the consistency that you want; a thick texture with some little pieces of dates is nice. You can also use a blender or food processor, but be sure to use the “pulse” feature so that you don’t liquefy the mixture.
  5. Store in a glass jar or airtight container in the refrigerator.

Serving suggestions: Spread on toasted bread or bagels; top toasted baguette slices with ricotta cheese and date jam, or spread baguette or apple slices with date jam and top with blue or gorgonzola cheese crumbles; stir 1/4-1/2 cup date jam into pancake or waffle batter; make a date shake by blending jam with vanilla ice cream and milk; stir into yogurt and sprinkle with your choice of chopped nuts … so many delicious possibilities!

For Sticky Toffee Oatmeal:

Follow the cooking directions on your favorite oats – old-fashioned, quick cooking or steel cut. When they’re ready, top with a dollop of Date Jam or swirl it on if you’re feeling artsy!

Add chopped pecans, raisins, chopped pear or apple.

Feel that warmth and goodness inside and out as you savor the flavor, and carry that warmth with you throughout the day.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

For more of Sue’s tips and tricks, visit www.itsokaytoeatthecupcake.com.