I’m having a bit of a baking moment. I’m not totally sure where it came from but my cooking obsession has ebbed a little and been somewhat replaced – maybe shared is a better word – with the new challenge of baking. Now, I’ve never been a great baker but I’m enjoying the science of it and the way that it requires a little more precision and technique than cooking. More than my cooking, anyway.
There is one downside to baking though. It is, for the most part, a really unhealthy pastime. Just google how much butter and sugar goes into a chocolate cake if you don’t believe me. Obviously, baking at home instead of buying your goodies from the shops is a lot better for you as you bypass all the weird additives and preservatives and you get a brilliant sense of accomplishment at the end of the process (alongside lots of compliments, hopefully). Unfortunately, that doesn’t exactly make it virtuous. Fine, if you’re only baking once in a while. Not so good if you’re me and you want to bake once of twice a week.
Luckily, the solution isn’t to stop baking. The solution is just to bake healthier, at least some of time. Healthier sweet treats do exist and I have had to remind myself of that. I used to be full on vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free. I had to have survived on something. These were what I survived on. Healthy chocolate caramel slices.
These beauties are beyond amazing. They taste really bad for you but are actually really good for you (I’m serious – there’s not one bad for you ingredient in there). You can indulge away plus still feel all the accomplishment of making something by yourself without beating yourself up about the white flour, butter and sugar. Not to mention that these are really easy to make; they just require a bit of forethought as they need time to set.
Make a batch today. You’ll thank me later.
2 cups Oats
1 and 1/2 cups Dates
2 tbs Coconut Oil
1/2 cup Almond Butter (the colour will be better if it was made from peeled almonds but any almond butter will taste just as good)
1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup
Just under 1/4 cup Water
1/2 cup Raw Cacao Butter
4 tbs Raw Cacao Powder
1/2 cup Dates, soaked for 30 minutes
2 tbs Maple Syrup
To make the base: place the oats into a food processor and blend for about 30 seconds. Add the dates and the coconut oil and blend until it all sticks together. Press the mixture firmly into a baking tray and set aside.
To make the middle layer: rinse your food processor and then pour in your almond butter, maple syrup and water. Blend until smooth and then spread over your base layer. Leave to firm up in the freezer for 40 minutes.
In the meantime soak your dates for the top layer in hot water for 15 – 20 minutes.
To make the top layer: melt your cacao butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Once it has melted stir in the cacao powder. Allow to cool for a minute whilst you add your soaked and drained dates to your food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Now add your cacao mixture and maple syrup and blend until combined. Get your baking tray out of the freezer and pour the final layer on top. Place back in the freezer for at least two hours to set.
You can store the slices in the fridge or freezer. They will be less firm if kept in the fridge but I actually prefer them that way.