A while ago I made healthy caramel shortbreads. I don’t know how it came about, but it did. One of my favourite snacks miraculously made into a concentrated form of promising nutrients(!?). For me, that recipe was a little long winded and the caramel had to reach just the right temperature in order to set perfectly. The beauty of raw desserts is that the preparation takes hardly any time at all, and instead of having to monitor the cooking process carefully, it requires only a blender and a freezer, and very little devotion of time or effort. This recipe is much simpler, much quicker and, in my opinion, maybe even tastier. Free from gluten, grains, dairy and refined sugar, I guarantee you can feed this to anyone and they’d be easily convinced that it was bad for you and incredibly naughty.
With a layer of protein rich nuts high in healthy fats, a filling of dried fruit and nutritious coconut oil, and a topping of cacao - one of the purest super foods high in natural, sustainable energy - these are perfect snacks any time of the day. Totally acceptable for breakfast, a perfect yet gentle pick me up for the afternoon, and a brilliant treat in the evening to satisfy any sudden, post-dinner sweet cravings.
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract or Seeds
Generous Pinch of Salt
2-3 Tablespoons Tahini
5 Tablespoons Ground Almonds
3 Tablespoons Desiccated Coconut
1/4 cup Coconut Oil
2-3 tablespoons Agave
RAW DATE CARAMEL
2 Cups Dates (preferably medjool)
1 Tablespoon Solid Coconut Milk
2-3 Tablespoons Liquid Coconut, Almond Milk or Water
4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt
1 Teaspoon Agave
2 Tablespoons Almond or Cashew Butter, or Tahini
1 Cup Coconut Oil or Cacao Butter or a mixture of both
10 Tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder
Pinch of Salt
2 Tablespoons Solid Coconut milk or Almond Milk (this is optional, but it adds a creaminess to the chocolate and makes the flavour a little less bitter)
1 Teaspoon/Tablespoon Agave or Coconut Blossom Nectar (again, optional if you like things sweeter).
Grease a dish with coconut oil then set aside. Although you’re not cooking the biscuit, raw desserts still have a tendency to stick sometimes. Alternatively, you can line your dish with baking paper.
+ I chose to do mine in a rectangle baking tray, and then cut them into individual bars. You could also use small ramekins for this recipe if you have guests for dinner. Or you could use a muffin tray, to make perfectly formed individual ones.
Start with the shortbread layer. Add the cashews, coconut oil, tahini, vanilla, salt and agave to a blender. Blend for 2 minutes and then add the desiccated coconut and ground almonds. Scrape down the sides and then blend for another minute or so. Adjust the speed to help get things moving. Stir again, and blend for a final time, until the mixture if becoming really smooth. It should resemble a very thin cookie dough. It won’t hold its shape in a ball like normal cookie mixture, but it should be a thick paste, and shouldn’t be runny.
+ You could experiment with a cooked base for this recipe too. You could either use a mixture of toasted nuts, although it wouldn’t be as smooth, or you can use the biscuit base from this recipe.
Scrape into your dish and spread the mixture along the base. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, make sure you press the mixture down as firmly as possible, making it compact. If it isn’t compact, it won’t set properly and may crumble. Once the entire base of the dish is covered evenly, place in the freezer to set. It should take about 1-2 hours to become really crunchy like a normal biscuit, but you can carry on adding the other layers even if it isn’t completely firm.
For the caramel, start by blending the dates and water. When the dates are completely broken down and a liquidy paste is forming, add the remaining ingredients. Blend on a high speed for 2-3 minutes to ensure you get the smoothest caramel possible. Pour the caramel onto the shortbread layer then return to the freezer.
You can let the date layer set for a couple of hours until it becomes tougher and chewier, or you can add the chocolate straight away. Just be careful not to spread the chocolate together with the caramel or you won’t get all three layers properly.
For the chocolate, simply heat the coconut oil in a pan until it is melted, whisk in the salt, coconut milk (if using) and agave, or sweetener of choice, and pour over the caramel layer. You can either leave it like this, or you can create a marble effect like mine. Simply melt together the Milk Chocolate ingredients, pour gently over the raw chocolate layer whilst it is still wet, and use the end of a fork or spoon to gently intwine the two shades of chocolate.
Set in the freezer for 2-3 hours at least. I prefer these really crunchy, so i leave them for about 6 hours. When they are ready, gently cut into rectangles and enjoy.
+ Store in the freezer, as the base may soften if you leave them in the fridge.