*These caramels are raw, vegan, free of refined sugar, dairy free, clean eating, and paleo friendly.
I’ve watched this Christmas season go by with picture after picture of homemade caramels passing by my eyes as I scroll through my social media feeds. I had basically written caramels off, thinking of them now only as cubes of reduced sugar.
Then it hit me. I could make caramels that were made with clean ingredients myself ! And easily!
All I needed were dates and nut butter.
So I got to it and whipped up a batch of much healthier caramels. I was so excited when I tried one and it tasted so much like a traditional chocolate covered caramel (aside from having that cloying sweetness….one thing I don’t miss at all) I could hardly believe it!
I real test was my husband. I handed him a piece and he popped it in his mouth with a hint of guarded scepticism in his eyes. I knew he would say that he liked it, but his jaw dropped and his eyes widened when he said that they were amazing. You know what that means, don’t you? These were better than he expected which means they really are so good!
The actual caramel is made by blending together dates and a small amount of nut butter. The nut butter may be the best part of these caramels. I used peanut butter, but you could use almond or cashew butter in it’s place. If you have a nut allergy, you can use sunflower butter. These caramels are for everybody!
I think that’s what I love most about making healthier desserts. You eliminate most of the allergens that are present in traditional desserts and because of that they are an option for so many people! Plus, with raw desserts, you keep the nutrients in tact so that when it comes to sweets they are as healthy as they can possibly be. This all just makes me so excited!
These caramels would be perfect to package up this Holiday season and give away as gifts. Just remember to keep them frozen or refrigerated for the best texture. If you don’t use a coconut oil based chocolate then they can be kept at room temperature. The caramel will be soft inside but the chocolate should stay firm around it.
Speaking of chocolate, you have two different options for these caramels. To keep them fully raw, dip them in a chocolate coating made of melted coconut oil and raw cacao powder. If you are looking for an option that is a little bit simpler, then melt down dark chocolate chips and dip the caramels in that.
You can use any kind of sea salt to top the caramels with but make sure to sprinkle it over the chocolate as it begins to set, not right after you dip the caramels of the salt may dissolve into the wet chocolate. I like to use a salt with big flakes as it gives the best visual impact.
- 2 cups Medjool Dates, pits removed (15-17 dates)
- 2 tablespoons Nut Butter of your choice (peanut, almond, cashew, or sunflower)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- ½ cup Coconut Oil
- 4 tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder
- 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
- Coarse Sea Salt Flakes
- Place the dates, nut butter, and vanilla in a food processor or high speed blender (I used a Vitamix). Blend the ingredients until a smooth mass forms.
- Line a metal loaf pan with parchment paper. Scoop the caramel into the lined loaf pan. Keeping you hands slightly wet (not dripping!), press the caramel down into the pan in a smooth layer.
- Freeze for 1 hour.
- Pull the parchment paper out of the pan and using a sharp knife, cut the caramel slab into squares (you should end up with about 2 dozen caramels).
- Pop the caramel squares back in the freezer while you make the chocolate.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, raw cacao powder, and maple syrup. Heat for a few seconds in the microwave for a more liquid-y texture.
- Set a caramel on the tines of a fork and dip in the chocolate coating. Tap off excess chocolate and place the caramel on a parchment lined tray. Repeat with remaining caramels.
- Top each caramel with a little sprinkle of sea salt.
- Store in the freezer or refrigerator.