When I’m craving a sweet, vegan chocolate is my go-to. Until recently, caramel didn’t appeal until I discovered @lovingearth’s salted caramel chocolate. I’ve had a long love affair with slices as they were the recipe my mother asked me to make every weekend. We cooked together every Friday afternoon, making savouries and sweets for the weekend meals. She delved into her recipe books where she kept slips of paper with handwritten recipes. There were many little slips of paper tucked into several of her favourite recipe books, gathered from friends and family over the years. Most were slightly yellowed, watermarked and crinkled; definitely well used and well loved. Lately, she has been sharing her favourites with me and I keep telling myself that I must make a collection soon, hand written in a leather bound journal as I think they deserve such a place to be kept for posterity.
In this chocolate caramel slice, I’ve made medjool dates the feature for their binding factor and caramel taste. You’ll notice that I’ve also added the superfood mesquite powder, for its high mineral content, especially calcium and magnesium. I’ve chosen this superfood in particular, as mesquite has a sweet, distinctive flavour with a caramel hint. Of course, it’s not imperative you include it. I’ve also chosen almonds as my nut of choice for this slice as there’s something about pairing the flavour of medjool dates and almonds that I love. I’ve used almonds in the base, and the nut butter in the caramel. If almonds don’t rock your boat, then brazil nuts or cashew nuts would be equally suitable. You’ll notice I’ve used vanilla powder. Again, if you can’t locate it substitute with vanilla bean extract.
· You do not have to worry about weight gain when you eat medjool dates; they don’t have any fats or sodium or cholesterol. So, go ahead and indulge in eating this healthy fruit snack!
· Medjool dates are great foods to control addiction for sweet foods. Their high fibre content keeps you full for long hence curbing the cravings.
· Medjool dates are loaded with calories, carbohydrates, proteins and no fat. The sugar in them is usually glucose, fructose and traces of sucrose and maltose.
· Medjool dates have a great amount of dietary fibre, supplying you with 27% of the recommended daily allowance.
· With 18 percent of the recommended daily allowance of copper mineral, medjool dates are useful in the body for absorption of iron, formation of collagen, red blood cells formation, healthy nervous system as well as energy generation.
· The anti-oxidants in medjool dates play an important role in ridding from the body bad fats as well as reducing the risk cancers.
· The high natural sugar levels in medjool dates as well as potassium keep you invigorated with energy. Potassium in medjool dates (by the way they contain more potassium than bananas) builds muscles tone, enhancing you physically.
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL SLICE
V, SF, DF, GF
Makes 23 x 23 cm tin / 23 x 34 cm tin
For the almond base:
1½ cups almonds
¾ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup cacao powder
3 tablespoons rice malt syrup
10-12 medjool dates, pitted
For the caramel:
1 cup soft medjool dates, pitted
½ cup almond butter
½ cup rice malt syrup
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons mesquite, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
pinch Himalayan salt
For the topping:
4 tablespoons sugar-free chocolate chips
To make the almond base, place the almonds in a food processor and chop into small pieces. Add the coconut, cacao powder, rice malt syrup and dates, then process until combined and sticky. Line a cake tin measuring approximately 23 x 23 cm (9 x 9 inches) or a slab tin 23 x 34 cm (9 x 13½ inches) with baking paper. Cut into the corners of the baking paper by cutting a square into each corner at the tin’s base. Evenly press the almond base into the tin, and place into the freezer while making the caramel.
Clean the food processor, add all the caramel ingredients and process until smooth. Spread the caramel over the almond base. Scatter the chocolate chips over the caramel and set in the freezer for 2-3 hours.
Remove from freezer at least 15 minutes before serving, and cut into slices. The slices can be stored in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks.