Easy oat cookie crust, healthy date caramel filling, silky chocolate ganache on top–this Date Caramel Slice is 3 layers of sweet vegan decadence!
I almost posted a
healthy non-chocolate recipe today, but with just a little over a week until Valentine’s Day I think a marathon of all chocolate things all week long is in order.
When I said “healthy” I meant cake. The almost recipe of today was cake. But Valentine’s Day is one holiday where a full-size cake really isn’t the appropriate way to celebrate, although cake is not out of the question entirely…
Pretty pink-fluff frosted cupcakes? Sure!
Snazzy shimmering cake pops? Absolutely!
A cup of chocolate cake brimming with berries? Very V-Day approved!
Small, sweet, and shareable–those are the kinds of treats that are perfect for Valentine’s.
An entire cake would just be weird. Now an entire cake blanketed in conversation hearts…nope, still weird. Possibly weirder.
There is nothing pink or heart-shaped about this recipe. But if you think about it, the combination of caramel and chocolate has been at the core of Valentine’s Day, filling red cardboard boxes next berry and nougat and ganache-centered sweets since forever. It’s true you never really know what you are going to get when you bite into those mysterious chocolate-covered morsels (unless you consult the very confusing diagram on the back of the box), but I’d be willing to bet at least one in every box will be caramel on the inside.
Instead of concealing the caramel, this Vegan Date Caramel Slice presents three delicious layers in plain sight: crust, caramel, and chocolate ganache.
The crust. Traditional caramel slice recipes typically have a shortbread crust, while more alternative and raw recipes often go with a nut + date mix. I kind of combined the two, taking the sweet, simple, crumbly-not-chewy texture of shortbread and the nubbly-ness of a nut-based crust. But naturally-sweetened and oat-based of course!
For texture, steel cut oats are the perfect chunky, chopped-nut-like choice. You could swap in actual chopped nuts or hemp seeds here instead. For the cookie part in between, oat flour and maple syrup mix to make a mildly sweet shortbread-like crust. I highly recommend adding a pinch of salt to the crust too for flavor balance!
The caramel. Keeping with the simple theme of this recipe, the caramel layer is only 3 ingredients. First is date paste, because it is already practically caramel all by itself. Then a little bit of cashew butter (or almond butter would work too, but I find the flavor to be much stronger) to thicken the filling and help it set into a slice-able consistency. And finally vanilla bean powder, because what’s caramel without a touch of sweet vanilla!
Just melt the cashew butter, mix it all up, and spread over the cookie crust.
The chocolate. Plain melted chocolate would work for the final layer, but it tends to shatter instead of neatly slicing. Adding just a few tablespoons of non-dairy milk to the chocolate chips before melting turns them into a chocolate ganache with more silkiness and much better slice-ability. And a final sprinkling of coarse salt on top is the perfect finishing touch.
Now you are just an overnight freezer stay away from a delightful date caramel sandwich! (Where the crust and the chocolate are like the bread…and the caramel is the…well you get the picture. I hope.)
Vegan Date Caramel Slice
Date Caramel Layer
- 1 cup date paste
- 1/4 cup cashew butter or almond butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 3 tbsp non-dairy milk
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine all the crust ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. It should be a sticky, clumpy dough.
Press into a baking dish (approx. 8x5") lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.
Allow the crust to cool while you make the caramel layer.
Melt the cashew butter. Combine the cashew butter, date paste, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously to combine.
Spread on top of the crust. Freeze.
In a bowl, combine the chocolate chips and non-dairy milk. Melt in the microwave or on the stove using a double boiler. Stir until smooth.
Pour/dollop the chocolate on top of the caramel. Carefully spread to the edges of the pan to completely cover the caramel.
Remove from the freezer a few minutes before slicing and eating.
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