I love me a bit of caramel slice but let's face it, it's not exactly the healthiest option out there. Thanks to vegans we now have a lot of non-dairy options that can replace the caramel in the traditional caramel slice. I've made this particular recipe several times over and I reckon I've finally got the quantities spot on! Usually I end up with a lovely tasting slice, but it's the texture that's the problem. Sometimes the filling is too soft and the topping is too hard which results in a mess when you try to cut it. After much experimentation I think I'm finally there.
The filling in this slice is the perfect balance between creamy and sweet without being overly soft. It consists mainly of dates and cashews for the sweet creaminess. I don't use medjool dates for the filling as they tend to be more expensive, and they really aren't needed. I choose a drier cheaper date which still yields a good flavour. You can of course use whatever your budget allows.
This slice is gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. It's not too difficult to make, in fact the only time consuming thing is waiting for it to set! It's pretty much a win in most people's book.
Date Caramel Slice (Adapted from Nadia Lim)
Makes approx 25 squares
For the Base
3/4 cup oats (use ground almonds for gluten free option)
3/4 coconut thread
1 Tbs cacao powder (cocoa powder works too)
6 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup raw whole almonds
pinch of salt
6 Tbs coconut oil, melted
For the Filling
200g dates, pitted
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup cashew nuts, soaked overnight (or boiled until soft)
1/8 - 1/4 cup maple syrup (adjust to your liking)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 Tbs coconut cream, solid part only (optional but recommended for extra creaminess)
1 tsp vanilla
For the topping
150g dark chocolate (Check for dairy free. I use Whittakers 72%)
150ml coconut milk
walnuts or coconut thread to decorate
Line a 20cm x 20cm square tin with baking paper. Set aside.
To your food processor add your oats/ground almonds, coconut thread, cacao powder, medjool dates, almonds and salt. Process until you get a fine crumbly mixture. Pour in melted coconut oil and blend until combined. The mixture shouldn't be sticky, but when you press it between your fingers it should hold. It will kinda look like wet sand. Press mixture into your lined tin. Make sure you press down firmly so it's as compact as possible. Pop in the fridge while you make the filling.
Now let's make the filling. In a medium saucepan, ad your dates and water and boil until soft and all the water has evaporated. Squash the dates with your spoon as it boils. You'll end up with a date paste once the water has boiled off. Place your date paste along with the rest of the filling ingridients into your food processor and blend until smooth. You probably won't get it smooth in the first go, so stop the machine, scrape down the sides and go again. Once it's smooth pour it over your base and pop back into the fridge to set. It will take about 4 hours i the fridge. You can speed thing sup by putting it in the freezer instead. It should only take about an hour in the freezer.
The last step is to add the chocolate topping. So once your slice is set, get a start on the topping. Chop your chocolate and set aside in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan heat the coconut milk until it just starts to bubble. You don't want to boil it, just warm it. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for a minute. Using a fork, or a whisk, mix the cream and chocolate together until smooth. Pour the chocolate all over the filling and spread it over evenly. Decorate with nuts or coconut thread and return to the fridge for about 20 minutes, or until the topping is set. I like to put it in the freezer and freeze it, then cut with a hot knife for smooth lines. Cut the slice into little squares, or if you're feeling generous you can make larger slices. Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. Defrost before consuming.