While it's always a challenge to make healthy choices when that sweet tooth beckons, it's nearly impossible during the holiday season. It seems that temptation is around every corner, in the form of cookies, cakes, candies and other treats. So, it's truly a win-win when I come across a snack that tastes indulgent and delicious, while also being totally guilt-free.
Say hello to vegan caramel! Yes, you read that correctly: vegan caramel. Dates are the naturally sweet and clever base of this vegan, gluten-free and versatile caramel. And, when I say versatile, I mean it!
Start with soft, pitted dates and puree with your choice of dairy-free milk, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
Puree in your food processor till smooth and serve with your favorite dippers!
I kept the mixture on the thicker side, to use as a dip. But, if you add more milk, you can create a "caramel" sauce to drizzle over ice cream, fruit, pancakes or cookies!
Those apple chips in the picture couldn't be easier. Simply slice 1 or 2 apples (washed and unpeeled) very thin—no need to core! Bake in a 200-degree oven for 2 hours, cool slightly and serve.
A decadent, guilt-free snack? Yes, please!
Vegan Salted Caramel
1 cup (about 24) pitted dates (Medjool, if you can find them)
1/2 to 3/4 cup dairy-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
flaky sea salt, to taste
Photos by Sheri Silver
1. Soak the dates in hot water for an hour. Drain and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add 1/2 cup milk, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Puree, scraping down the bowl once or twice, till very smooth. Check consistency and add more milk—a bit at a time—if needed.
2. Scrape into a bowl and sprinkle with additional salt if desired. Keep refrigerated till ready to serve.