He took up his book again. “Very good, electricity and heat are the same thing; but is it possible to substitute the one quantity for the other in the equation for the solution of any problem?”
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Which brings us to date paste. (Actually, not really, but I couldn’t come up with a better segue!)
Have you heard of date paste? I made it recently for the first time.
All because I ran out of peanut butter.
Shocker, I know! Peanut butter is one of my pantry staples. I need it for umami granola bars; I crave it slathered on toast beneath a mound of chicken salad. I’m never supposed to run out.
Hear me out, though: it’s not my fault. The brand new jar of peanut butter I opened (expiration date: 2018!) was yucky . . . gross . . . as if ground from cheap quality peanuts turned rancid.
Not having had time to take it back, this mockery of peanut butter sits gathering dust, taking up room on my shelf—taunting me, a haunting reminder that I can’t just dip a finger into it whenever I please.
Ugh. To be peanut butter-less is terrible.
Especially when new recipes using peanut butter kept flaunting before me, causing me to heave a sigh, and move on.
Then, I thought about date paste.
I thought about how the thick, stickiness of date paste resembled peanut butter. I thought that resemblance meant it might work in recipes the same way as peanut butter does.
I thought I should stop thinking and start doing.
First, I chopped dates, and gave them a good, long soak in hot water for several hours. Next, I drained them, and mashed them with a fork for an easy, lazy version of date paste. Then, I put my theory to the test: two times I substituted date paste in recipes that called for peanut butter.
The results? It worked! Needless to say, I was quite pleased. Plus, with the natural sugar from the dates, I didn’t need to use as much sweetener—not that I’m much of a fan of super-sweet to begin with.
What about you? What ingredients have you substituted on a whim when you didn’t have everything a recipe called for? Was your experiment a success? Or a dud?