Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prunes Versus Dates

Finally a recipe showed up today that made me question substituting prunes every time dates are called for.

This was enough for me to go out and buy a bag of dates and experiment with recipes I know well and are extremely fast.

Unfortunately there is a much greater difference than I expected. And in many desserts whereas prunes were getting the job done, dates would clearly make the end result better.

I realize prunes aren't ones to talk, but dates are ugly. No wonder they are always at the stores, sitting expensively by themselves, rolled in some topping.

I made sure to try one plain before getting started, and thought the taste was more or less fine. Dates are considerably sweeter, so much so that I am not sure I would just stand around eating them plain which I do all the time with prunes. I wasn't a huge fan of the texture. It has that similar sugar-grainy texture like dried pineapples or old raisins.

So I went into my experimenting, planning on preferring the beloved prune versions to anything dates could produce.

I first made the Cashew Cookies which have been my current favorite as far as quick, uncooked snacks.

I make it true to her recipe. I cut the recipe in half and did the date version first (right side). I do add chocolate chips (although today it was pieces of my chocolate bar). The date version was definitely sweeter and I would easily eat either.

Then came the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. I was living on this recipe for awhile until the cashews came along and I decided to branch out. I always substitute unsweetened coconut for the 2 tablespoons of peanuts.

The date version (also on the right side) of this recipe was WAY better. Alarmingly so. It took this snack and brought it up to a dessert. Both taste good, but I have created a monster now that I know what the date version tastes like - I am not sure I would make the prune version again.

This was good for me to really understand the differences between prunes and dates and how I will use them in recipes. 

For many of the fudge babies using prunes will still work fine, but for things like raw crusts, or in today's case a blondie recipe I would say dates are the clear choice. If it wasn't for the line-up of baking projects and sales I have coming up I would probably be making the Chocolate-Chip Cookie Pie Without Sugar right now - although mine would still have sugar if it needed sweetening beyond the dates.


  1. I love prunes and dates, but I like dates better in things... prunes by themselves!

    1. I feel like I am totally behind the curve! LOL. Had I known this year was going to be all about expanding my eating I would have made it a monthly goal to recap all the new things I have tried.

      Hooray for another prune lover! There are so few of us younger ones. :)

  2. Growing up middle eastern you would think that I like dates more than I do but I can understand how much better they would taste in baking than prunes, unless you made a fruitcake type dessert where prunes would actually taste pretty good

    1. You must have had a chance to eat some really amazing stuff in the middle east!

      Right now I would eat the prunes over the dates just plain, but I was stunned how clear the baking difference is for most items (good point on fruit cake style though).

  3. Ok, Love this post!! Unfortunately I don't like either of them...wish I really did! I might have to try them in cookies, I bet I would enjoy them. Love your blog! Absolutely love that you incorporated your dog in your book review (below)...I must do that with my pugs!!

    1. I just laughed about the can you not put them in everything! LOL. I am sure you do.

      Anyway I think that you could totally incorporate dates in cooking and really not even taste them. That was the other part I forgot to mention. Dates taste mostly like sugar whereas prunes definitely have that "fruit sweetened" taste.

      I had a lot of fun with this!

  4. Thank you for your not just defining the difference but also showing it.

  5. Thank you for your not just defining the difference but also showing it.