© 2018 Can Caramelo

Chocolate Caramel Slices

I failed. I have tried to take a bite of these date sweetened chocolate caramel slices with my eyes opened and my mouth shut, but it’s utterly impossible for me. Every time I bite into these and hear the loud crackling sound of the chocolate, my eyes close, my face muscles relax and a guttural mhmmm sound escapes my mouth. The combination of the dark chocolate and flaky sea salt sprinkled on top, the gooey date caramel layer and the hearty sweet and slightly salty oat and almond base is something that makes me feel like I levitate.

It’s definitely one of my favourite desserts. They are also vegan and only sweetened with dates and chocolate, but that doesn’t make them any less decadent. I usually store them in the freezer because that’s actually the way I prefer them, they don’t get completely hard, and can be eaten directly. Plus, this way they stay fresh for a long time. Simón calls them “the things with chocolate on top that are cold and sticky” (although I think it’s the toddlers hands that convert everything into something sticky). Usually he has hardly finished one when he starts smiling at me with his chocolate-smeared little mouth and says “more!”.

The date caramel is finger-lickingly delicious on its own and I like to make a lot and save some for porridge, as a spread, for smoothies and the like.

Makes 12 larger or 24 smaller bars.

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almonds, hazelnuts or cashews or a mixture of these
  • 6 Medjool dates or 12 normal (if they aren’t fresh and soft, soak them in warm water for 10min and drain afterwards)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the date caramel:

  • 10 big Medjool Dates or 20 normal (again, if they aren’t fresh and soft, soak them in warm water for 10min and drain afterwards)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (a combination of almond and hazelnut butter is insane, almond butter on it’s own is delectable and I imagine peanut butter and tahini might also be good choices but I haven’t tried them yet)
  • 1 tbsp cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)

For the chocolate layer:

  • 100-200g dark chocolate (70-85% cacao), 100g make for a thinner layer, 200g make a gloriously thick layer
  • some flaky sea salt to sprinkle

Instructions
Start with the date caramel (that way you won’t have to wash the food processor in between). Put all the ingredients except the coconut milk in the food processor and blend until smooth and sticky. The consistency depends on how liquid the nut butter is and how soft the dates are, so you might want to start with less coconut milk and then keep adding until achieving a consistency that is not a ball, but still as thick as possible. Put the caramel into a bowl and set aside while you prepare the base.
Add all ingredients for the base into the food processor (small rests from the date caramel are fine) and blend for a couple of minutes, until until a crumble forms that sticks together between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry and doesn’t stick, add a date or a splash of plant milk. If it is too sticky, add a few oats.
Line a 20x25cm (8x10inches) tray with parchment paper and press the base into it with your hands. Spread the date caramel on top with the help of a spatula. Aim at en even surface. Now freeze for at least 30min. This way the chocolate will set quickly and the caramel will be hard enough not to spill out (I sometimes freeze over night and make the chocolate layer the next day). Gently melt the chocolate in a water bath and pour over the caramel. Move the whole tray around to get everything covered in chocolate evenly. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Cut immediately into bars (if the chocolate is too hard or the date caramel too soft, the chocolate will break and the caramel spill out, it’s still as good, but a little less pleasing aesthetically). Enjoy!

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