Looking for an easy, but impressive, homemade holiday candy that is sure to wow even the most skeptical vegan dessert critics? Here it is! Salted caramels. Does reading those two words make your mouth water as much as it does mine? There is just something about chewy-gooey, buttery, rich, sweet, salty, melt in your mouth caramels. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone that doesn’t like a good caramel. It is a magical thing for the taste buds to behold. Now throw in the flavors of spiced gingerbread, and you not only have magic, you have holiday magic!
Instead of corn syrup, sugar, butter or any of those usual things you would round up to make caramel, I tried to go for something a little less refined (and of course, dairy-free) and used juicy medjool dates (which are basically nature’s caramel candies), raw almond butter, unrefined virgin coconut oil, along with a handful of spices and a bit of molasses to impart a lovely gingerbread flavor. These are simple, almost raw, soft and chewy caramels that literally will dissolve in your mouth. A sprinkle of my new favorite, celtic grey salt, makes the flavors come alive. I don’t know how it works, but trust me, it woorrrrkks. In the words of my mom upon tasting one of the caramels, “How could such a thing taste so good?”
Don’t question it. Just make them, eat them, share them, and be very very merry!
Salted Gingerbread Caramels made with dates (vegan, refined sugar free)
makes about 16-20 caramels depending on how large you cut them
- 1 packed cup of pitted medjool dates
- 1/4 cup of raw almond butter
- 1/4 cup of unrefined virgin coconut oil, melted
- 1 tbsp, or more unsulphered blackstrap molasses
- 2 pinches of salt
- 1 tsp of ground ginger, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg, or to taste
- pinch of cloves
- I like to soak my dates just for about 5 minutes in very hot water, then drain them very well. Blend everything in your food processor, stopping often to scrape the sides and bottom of the container. Keep going until the mixture is very very smooth.
- Scrape the mixture into a small container (I used an square 4×4 inch baking dish). I would suggest oiling the container with a bit of grapeseed oil or another neutral tasting oil or lining the container with saran wrap. Then smooth the mixture with wet fingertips or a wet silicone spatula. The only difficult part of making the caramels is smoothing the mixture and removing it from the container. Pop it in the freezer and let it firm up for a few hours.
- To remove, I ran a butter knife around the perimeter of the container and pried back one side, then used a spatula to scrape the bottom away from the dish and remove the whole square. Then I placed it on a sheet of parchment paper and cut it into squares. Sprinkle with sea salt and store in the fridge (softer) or freezer (firmer). They will get very very soft if left out at room temperature for too long.
Notes: you can cut small square from parchment paper and wrap them individually, just be sure to store them in the freezer so they don’t get too soft and stick to the wrappers.