Coconut sugar and date sugar are alike in a few respects. In addition to the fact that both are effective sweeteners and often advertised as being superior to refined sugar, they both also come from palm trees. Of course, there are significant differences in how they are sourced. Coconut sugar comes from the sap of the coconut palm, whereas date sugar is the dried and ground fruit of the date palm. If you are looking for a healthier sugar and trying to choose between these two options, you should consider some of their other differences such as those below. Let’s break things down in another SPICEography Showdown.
How do coconut sugar and date sugar compare in terms of flavor?
The primary flavor of coconut sugar and of date sugar is that of sweetness. They can function as versatile sweeteners because they are able to provide the taste of sugar to a wide range of dishes without a lot of additional complexity or much of an aftertaste. That said, both sugars do have slightly different characteristics with regard to what they provide along with their sugary flavor. Unlike the impression you may get from the name, coconut sugar does not taste like coconuts. Instead, it has more in common with brown sugar in that it has caramel notes to go along with its sweet flavor profile. Date sugar consists of dried dates, which allows it to offer similar flavor notes. The flavor of date sugar lies somewhere between caramel and butterscotch. While coconut sugar does have a similar flavor profile, the caramel and butterscotch flavors are slightly stronger in date sugar.
Can you use coconut sugar as a date sugar substitute and vice versa?
Yes, absolutely. Both work similarly in a large number of recipes in that they will provide similar flavors. They are especially similar when it comes to their benefits in baked goods and sauces. However, it is important to keep in mind their differences when using one in place of the other. Consider the fact that coconut sugar is a crystallized sugar, which means that it dissolves completely in water. It will function similar to most refined sugar and raw sugar when used in beverages and baked goods. Date sugar consists of dried fruit, which means that it will leave a residue. This may appear as flecks in lighter-colored pastries and cakes or as grit in the bottom of a glass or teacup when it is used to sweeten a drink.
You can use coconut sugar in place of date sugar in dishes where the residue is undesirable. Use date sugar in place of coconut sugar where the residue does not matter or if you want the nutritional benefits.
Note that while both are typically more expensive when compared to refined sugar, date sugar usually sells for a higher price than coconut sugar.
When should you use coconut sugar and when should you use date sugar?
Both are great alternatives for brown sugar in that they work just as well in most recipes. Use coconut sugar in any dish that calls for brown sugar; it will function in much the same way. It can work in everything from coffee to apple pies. Use date sugar in dishes where the residue of dried dates does not matter or will complement the dish. It can work in darker colored cakes as well as in a dry rub for barbecues.