This slice is deliciously decadent, which is exactly how a caramel slice ought to be. The base is light in both flavour and texture, but still sturdy enough to hold the other two layers. Next comes the layer of refined sugar-free caramel, which is sweet, rich and creamy. Finally, it’s all topped off with a thick layer of smooth and silky chocolate. Every mouthful of this slice is just oh so heavenly!
The stand out ingredient of this caramel, comes in the form of Medjool dates. But as well as lending their amazing colour and flavour to this recipe, they are also very healthy too, as they have a low glycemic index score. Also, they’re low in fat and packed with full of nutrients like potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin B6, niacin, calcium, iron and vitamin K. For more information about dates you can read more here.
My first attempt at making raw caramel was a bit of a disaster. So much so, that I was too embarrassed to take a picture of it to show you all! One of the reasons it didn’t work out, was because I forgot to add one of the ingredients. So the caramel didn’t set properly and oozed out the sides, when I was cutting it into pieces. The flavour was ok, although not great, but I wasn’t pleased with the base either.
My second attempt, can you believe, was actually worse than my first! It may have looked appetising, but in reality it really wasn’t. Unfortunately, the flavour of the caramel was completely dominated by the tahini, so it was just a very expensive flop! Over the next week or so, Ethan and I did try to eat it. But it just wasn’t enjoyable at all, so I threw the rest of it out.
My third attempt, that was much better, as I changed the base completely. I found that using almond meal, instead of whole nuts, formed a nice compact and sturdy base, without it being heavy in flavour or having a crunchy texture. I also stayed away from any dominating flavour bases, like tahini or nut butters. Instead, I decided to use soaked cashews and coconut cream, with dates, maple syrup and vanilla. I also decided to change how I was making the chocolate layer too. So instead of the chocolate layer being light and crisp, it was now thick, soft and smooth. I liked it much better this way and it also made cutting the slice a lot easier too.
So I was fairly happy with the flavour of this newer version. However, the texture of the filling still needed to have more substance to it. When cutting the slice into pieces, instead of the chocolate having nice straight lines, it would just curve around the soft filling. It was also a little too sweet for my liking (although the boys loved it) and it didn’t take long for the filling to go soft and gooey. So, over the next few weeks I experimented using coconut butter and coconut oil, until I was happy with the consistency of the filling.
As you can see, sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error to get it just right! But it’s all worth it in the end and I hope you enjoy this slice as much as my family and friends did.
For accurate cup measurements, I sift the raw cacao before measuring to make sure there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.
Makes 12 bars
22g (0.8 ounces or 2 tablespoons) chia seeds
120g (4.3 ounces or 1¼ cups) desiccated coconut (I use this brand)
112g (4.0 ounces or 1 cup) almond meal/flour
100g (3.5 ounces or approx. 8 medium) soft Medjool dates
10g (0.4 ounces or 2 tablespoons) raw cacao powder (I use this brand)
2 tablespoons (30ml) coconut oil, melted (I use this brand)
2 tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
A pinch of salt
120g (4.2 ounces or approx. 9 medium) Medjool dates
80g (2.8 ounces or ½ cup) raw cashews, soaked overnight, rinse well and drained
125ml (½ cup) coconut cream (I use this brand)
60ml (¼ cup) pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons coconut butter
1 tablespoon (15ml) coconut oil (I use this brand)
2½ teaspoons (12.5ml) pure vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
48g (1.7 ounces or ½ cup) desiccated coconut (I use this brand)
2 tablespoons (30ml) coconut oil (I use this brand)
90ml (6 tablespoons) coconut oil, melted (I use this brand)
90ml (6 tablespoons) pure maple syrup
27g (1.0 ounces or ⅓ cup) raw cacao powder (I use this brand)
1½ teaspoons (7.5ml) pure vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Line a 28cm x 18cm slice pan with baking paper or parchment, leaving enough overhanging so you can easily lift the slice out once its chilled.
Add the chia seeds to a coffee, or spice, grinder and then process until the seeds become a meal.
Place the chia meal in a food processor along with the desiccated coconut, almond meal, dates, cacao powder, coconut oil, maple syrup and salt. Process until the mixture is crumbly and combined, scraping down the sides when necessary. The mixture is ready when it can easily form a compact dough, when you press it between your thumb and index fingers.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan, then place a piece of baking paper/parchment over the top of the base and use the back of a spoon to firmly compact it further. Then place in the freezer, while you work on the caramel filling.
To make the caramel filling, make your coconut butter first. However, if you have purchased your coconut butter, then you can skip this next step.
Now this is actually quite simple. Place your desiccated coconut in a small food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes. As it starts to breakdown, the oils come out.
Add your coconut oil, then blitz again for another minute or so, and you end up with coconut butter.
To make the caramel layer, add all the ingredients to a small food processor and process until thick, smooth and creamy, scaping down the sides when necessary. This should take a few minutes to achieve.
Pour the caramel over the base and then use a spatula to evenly spread it to the edges. Bang the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
Place the pan back into the freezer for approximately 3½ hours, until the surface feels firm to the touch, but not frozen solid.
To make the raw chocolate layer, add all the ingredients to a tall cylinder shaped jug and blend until the chocolate becomes thick and glossy. I use my stick blender to do this, but you can also use an ordinary blender too. However, you need to scape down the sides when necessary, then continue to blend for a minute or so, until well combined.
Because the raw chocolate sets quickly, you will need to work fairly swiftly when pouring the chocolate over the caramel layer. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the slice and then place the pan back in the freezer for about 12-15 minutes, to allow the chocolate layer to set completely.
Once the chocolate has set, remove the pan from the freezer and use the baking paper/parchment to lift the slice out of the pan. Then use a hot knife to cut the slice lengthways into 4 and then cut these again into 3 even pieces. Just make sure to wipe the knife clean after each cut you make, otherwise your slice with stick to the blade. You can of course cut this into any shape or size you desire.
Store your caramel slice in a single layer in an airtight container in your refrigerator or freezer.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse