Total: 2 hr 30 min(includes softening and cooling times)
Active: 15 min
Yield:about 1 cup
1 of 4 servings
This natural sweetener, used throughout the Middle East, is easier to make at home than you think. The secret is patience--and keeping a close eye on the pot as it cooks. As for the dates, I recommend using Deglet Noor dates for syrup-- they are less expensive than Madjool dates and have a modest sweetness, so the syrup isn't overwhelming. You can use date syrup in both sweet and savory dishes. I mix mine into salad dressings and drinks, drizzle it on yogurt, oatmeal and waffles and as a central ingredient for luqaimat (fried dumplings tossed in date syrup).
Put the dates in a large heatsafe bowl and add the boiling water. Let sit until the dates are softened, about 30 minutes.
Using a blender or an immersion blender, blend the dates and water so no large chunks are left. Pour this mixture into a pot and place it over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the dates from sticking to the bottom of the pot, until the mixture is no longer watery and has a creamy, almost pudding-like consistency, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let the mixture come to room temperature.
Put a nut milk bag or large piece of cheesecloth in a colander and place it over a saucepan. Working in 2 batches, pour the date mixture into the nut milk bag and squeeze it over the colander to strain the liquid through. You should be left with 2 to 2 1/2 cups of liquid. What's left in the nut milk bag is date pulp, which can be saved for another use (see Cook's Note).
Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring it to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid is thickened, coats the back of a spoon and is reduced by one-half or more, depending on how thick you want your syrup, 30 to 40 minutes. Let it cool completely, then store in a mason jar or other container, refrigerated, for up to 3 months.
You can use the leftover date paste in smoothies or baking, or simply roll it into small balls for a healthy snack.
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