The Story of Creation
As told by founder, Lorena Prakash.
I travelled to Dubai in 2012. This was by no means a business trip, but I discovered a variety of Middle Eastern dates for the first time. Infused with caramelized pecans, roasted almonds, crystalized ginger and orange, and begging to be coated in rich chocolate—it was love at first bite.
I returned to Calgary, Canada, with a few boxes of these divine bite-sized treats. Even after devouring the last one, I could not stop dreaming of those delectable dates. I began my search—I needed my fix of the guilt-free superfood, both savoury and sweet. Duzu Dates was born from my search for (obsession with) those delightful dates.
The Story of Creation
Here marks my adventure into creating artisanal dates fit to share on the local market. These dates had lit a fire in me; I felt energized and inspired to create my own unique product.
First, there was the research phase. I found an organic medjool date supplier, and I tested recipes in my kitchen. I learned to work with different wholesome, yet heavenly, ingredients. I roasted almonds as filling, playing with flavours of paprika, chili powder, and cayenne.
I wanted the mild spice to surprise everyone who tried a taste. The milk and dark chocolate all of Duzu’s Dates are dipped in combats the slightly spicy almond filling. Himalayan salt sprinkled on top adds another layer of flavour to each bite.
Early on, crystallized cubes of ginger became another favourite filling which offers a different sort of spicy kick. The same coating of milk and dark chocolate combines the richest flavours in each artisanal date. These original roasted almond and crystallized ginger dates remain Duzu’s team and consumer favourites.
Trials with Chocolate
Product development did not end in my kitchen. The coating of chocolate proved to be the trickiest step to master in my testing phases. I knew I wanted my dates to be enrobed in chocolate; it was the finishing touch they needed to elevate them from simply healthy to simply irresistible. The only problem: fine chocolate requires tempering.
Tempering is a heating, stirring, and cooling technique that gives chocolate a lovely shine and snap with each bite. When poorly executed, the chocolate blooms: the sugar crystals rise to the surface, resulting in a dull gray appearance. The chocolate tastes the same, but lacks the visual appeal of premium brands.
Tempering chocolate is a necessary step when working with real cocoa in order to achieve the desirable smooth look. We only use real chocolate made from real cocoa at Duzu Dates, so I was forced to learn all about tempering techniques.
After a few attempts of my own—resulting in some unattractive, bloomed chocolate—I approached Albert Karylo, the chocolatier and culinary instructor at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary. With his help, I perfected my chocolate-dipping and salt-sprinkling techniques, creating the first delightful batch of Duzu Dates. Albert’s expertise inspired some of Duzu’s earliest recipes, flavours and presentations of our dates. Albert guided the first stages of Duzu’s creation and contributed in the growth of the dream I was chasing.