I feel a little stupid that I never thought about making coffee creamer at home before but I didn’t. Maybe it’s because I drink my coffee black about 99% of the time. I’ve been a little bored with black coffee lately but didn’t want to use commercial creamer for a few reasons: 1) too many chemicals; 2) too sweet; 3) dairy (dairy and coffee don’t always go together that well for me). In my Twitter feed one day I had a tweet with a link to a recipe that really intrigued me: date caramel and vanilla creamer. I really like dates (especially when stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon!) and the recipe looked easy enough so I decided to try it.
I liked the final product. It gave me a break from black coffee, which was my main goal. This creamer is definitely not very sweet (you could add more honey when you make it or just add sweetener to your coffee to taste) but it does have a caramel flavor. The date flavor isn’t pronounced but the finish on the creamer is vaguely botanical and fruity. Even after straining the liquid through a sieve quite a bit of pulp from the dates remained, so I stirred my coffee a few times while drinking it so that all of the pulp didn’t settle to the bottom of my cup. I noticed that after drinking coffee with the creamer in it I felt really full for a few hours, which I attribute to the fiber in the dates. I try to watch my weight (usually I just watch it go up) so this was a really delightful side effect because then I didn’t get any mid-morning munchies and could hold off on lunch for longer.
I thought I read a recommendation somewhere to use almond milk in the creamer instead of half & half if you want a nondairy version but damned if I can find that now. Anyway, I used almond milk but next time I’ll try soy milk, which is what I usually drink. Not a big almond milk fan. I’m sure this would be HEAVENLY with half & half but a) too much fat/calories and b) my aforementioned dairy issue.
The intermediate step, the date caramel, is so good that we’ve vowed to find some uses for that by itself. It’s easy to make and I just know there has to be a delicious, healthy dessert that can come from it. If anyone has any ideas, please post a comment!
Here are some tips for the creamer:
-Definitely let the dates soak for at least an hour.
-Use a small food processor. When I first started processing the date caramel I was using my big 11 cup processor and all the dates just flew to the outside of the bowl and hung out there instead of getting chopped up. I transferred the mixture to my small chopper (about a 1 cup capacity) and that was much more effective.
-Before you strain the creamer through the fine mesh sieve at the end, strain it through a regular colander that has small holes, if you have one. My sieve was getting very clogged with all the date particles, so I pulled out a colander with small holes and put it through that, THEN put it through the sieve. Still a slow process getting it through the sieve but definitely sped things up.
-Allow about an hour of hands-on time the first time you make this. I got the impression this would be more like a 15 minute project and got very frustrated when it took longer (I was trying to get it done before we went somewhere so I was very impatient).
I think my next creamer project will be Melody’s chocolate almond coffee creamer, then I’ll try the date caramel creamer again. I’m definitely inspired to eat a more natural diet. I had a health scare last year (major to me, probably minor to everyone else) and my cholesterol is too high so I know I need to make some changes. Any time I can eliminate processed foods and replace them with natural, organic options, I’m happy.