This is one of those dangerously delicious recipes. I warn you now that these bars are basically addictive. Addictive but oh so healthy.
I've been itching to get this recipe up and posted on the blog for like a month now. That's also how long I've had this draft open on my computer. Things have been a bit crazy but I wanted to make sure this recipe turned out just perfect. And the photos eye popping delicious of course. I must thank you all for the wonderful comments on my photography lately. I'm always working to improve and learn more, so thanks a bunch! It means a lot to me.
I'm super excited for these bars because they're totally sugar-free. The only sugar you'll find in this dessert is the natural sugar from the dates and whatever small amount that exists in the dark chocolate topping.
The caramel layer of these bars are made from just a few things:
- pitted dates
- cashews, soaked in water and drained
- almond milk
- sea salt
Soaking the cashews helps to make the caramel layer silky smooth and easy to blend. You can soak them overnight or at least 2 hours if you are short on time. Once everything is blended together you're left with a slightly sweet caramel like spread.
Holy friggin' delicious!
These dessert bars aren't too difficult to make. Trust me, the little bit of freezer time it takes for them to set is worth the wait!
Healthy Caramel Slice
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Keywords: bake food processor blender dessert snack dairy-free sugar-free gluten-free grain-free cashews chocolate dates coconut flour bars
Ingredients (makes 8 large or 16 small squa)Base
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 3 eggs + 1 egg white
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups dates, pitted
- 1 cup unsalted cashews, soaked in water overnight
- 2 tablespoons almond milk
- pinch of sea salt
- 145 grams dark chocolate
InstructionsTo make the base
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one going each way. This makes it easy to lift out the bars later on.
Mix all of the base ingredients together until combined and batter is formed with no lumps. Pour the mixture into the bottom of prepared baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.To make the caramel layer
Add all the middle layer ingredients into the processor and process until smooth. Spread evenly onto your base layer and smooth out. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour to set, until the middle layer is very firm to the touch.To make the chocolate topping
When the middle layer is completely solid, prepare the topping. Melt the chocolate in a double broiler and spread evenly over top of the caramel layer. Return to the freezer until the chocolate is firm and the bars are solid.
Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before gently slicing. Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt on top if desired. Wrap leftovers and store in the fridge or freezer.
I have a few recipe "blogging rules" that I always try to follow:
- If I feel like a recipe isn't good enough, it doesn't go on the blog. I've become very true to this especially over the last year or so. This also means that if I don't ever see myself making something again I won't post it.
- If I think my photos just aren't good enough I will go back to the drawing board and re-shoot them. This can drive me a bit crazy sometimes, but it's totally worth it in the end when you are satisfied with the final product. After all it's a bit like art.
Anyway, after multiple sips, I knew that this one was going up on the blog. There was no second guessing it tasted that good.
Having said that, I find smoothies always seem like their so easy to make. Throw some things into the blender, whaz it up, and you're done. But sometimes they come out tasting just plain nasty...chalky texture and all. Smoothie making can certainly be an art form.
That's where this vegan protein shake comes in. Cookie dough in smoothie form...what could be better?
Instead of using protein powder, which can give your smoothie that chalky texture and taste, I added these protein-packed ingredients:
- Cashew Butter
- Raw Hemp Seeds
- Almond Milk
This smoothie is also flavoured with cocoa powder and a drizzle of maple syrup. The cashew butter really helps give it that cookie dough batter-like taste, but other nut butters will work too.
Banana goes in for a little extra thickness, but it's definitely not overpowering if you hate bananas.
To top it off we have dark chocolate shavings. And in case you're wondering, yes, this smoothie is totally breakfastable (I'm pretty sure I just made that word up). It's incredibly thick, filling and boasts 17 grams of protein. You can split it into 2 servings if you like with something on the side or finish the whole thing off yourself. Enjoy the boost of protein and omega-3's that hemp seeds provide. They also reduce inflammation in the body and help balance hormones.
So blend it all up and what do we have?
Cookie Dough Protein Smoothie
Keywords: blender breakfast beverage lunch smoothie snack dairy-free gluten-free low-sodium protein soy-free sugar-free vegan banana chocolate hemp seeds cashew butter
Ingredients (yields 16oz)
- 1 cup unsweetended almond milk (or other preferred milk)
- 1/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 medium frozen banana
- 1 tbsp cashew butter
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-4 ice cubes
- Chocolate shavings (optional)
In a small bowl, mix the oats and almond milk. Place in fridge and let it soak for at least 2 hours to soften and thicken. This prevents the oats from giving the smoothie a gritty texture.
Place thickened oat mixture into your blender along with the rest of the ingredients (except for the chocolate shavings). Blend on high until smooth.
Pour into a tall glass, top with chocolate shavings if desired. Serve and enjoy!Notes
For the entire 16oz portion, this smoothie comes in at approx. 425 calories and 17 grams protein. It's also a rich source of omega 3's, and Calcium. Feel free to split this into 2 servings to make it snack-sized.
Feel free to sub the cashew butter with other nut butters.