raw vegan salted sesame caramel slice

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Visiting the Pana chocolate cafe in Melbourne recently revived my enthusiasm for raw treats – to the point where I almost prefer them to their cloyingly sweet traditional counterparts. I used to dismiss such offerings – disdainfully claiming “if it’s made with dates, it tastes like dates”, and here I am now, eating my words and far too many pieces of this slice. This is not so much a healthy take on the traditional caramel slice I adore and analyse the chocolate to caramel ratio of, rather simply a raw and vegan version that tastes just as good as the real thing. The recipe may be gluten and dairy free, but having either intolerance is absolutely not a prerequisite for enjoying it immensely.

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While the combination of sesame with the chocolate and caramel may seem a little odd, I promise it adds both a salty depth of flavour with the addition of tahini and a pleasant crunch thanks to the seeds themselves. I see a lot of “raw” Snickers slices in both cafes and on Instagram, and the difficulty with creating a chocolate/peanut butter combination that’s truly raw is the fact that unroasted peanuts tend to taste more like beans. Obviously I don’t follow a raw vegan diet at all, but I wanted to respect the principles behind the philosophy when I created this – hence my inspiration to use sesame seeds for a slight nuttiness to make the slice more interesting. Also, no peanuts = paleo friendly!

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raw vegan salted sesame caramel slice

Ingredients:

    Base:

    • 1 1/8 cup (180g) raw almonds
    • 1/2 cup (40g) desiccated coconut
    • 9 fresh dates, pitted
    • 1/3 cup (90g) coconut oil
    • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds
    • Pinch of sea salt

    Caramel filling:

    • 24 fresh dates, pitted (room temperature)
    • 1/3 cup (100g) tahini
    • 3 tbsp coconut oil
    • 2 tbsp rice malt syrup
    • Generous pinch sea salt flakes
    • 1/4 cup coconut cream

    Chocolate topping:

    • 2/3 cup (250g) rice malt syrup
    • 1/3 cup (90g) coconut oil
    • 1/2 cup (50g) raw cacao powder
    • Pinch of sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
    • White sesame seeds for topping
    • Loving Earth salted caramel chocolate (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Grease and line an 7 x 11 inch (or similar) deep baking tray with nonstick paper.
    2. For the base, combine the almonds, coconut, dates and coconut oil and blitz in a food processor on high speed for a few minutes, or until the nuts are in small crumbs and have formed a sticky mixture with the dates and coconut oil. Add the sesame seeds and blend for a further minute to mix them through. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking tray and pop in the freezer while preparing the caramel.
    3. Again with the food processor, blend the fresh dates, tahini, coconut oil, sea salt and rice malt syrup on high until they form a thick paste. Add a spoonful of the coconut cream at a time to thin the caramel so it can be spread over the base. Pour the caramel over the partially set base, spread evenly with a spatula and freeze again.
    4. Melt the coconut oil and over very low heat in a saucepan, combine with the rice malt syrup, cacao powder and a pinch of salt. Stir constantly until combined. Pour over the caramel, sprinkle with extra sea salt and sesame seeds (along with the caramel chocolate if using). Freeze for at least 2 hours before cutting into pieces with a warmed knife.
    5. Store in the fridge for a creamy texture, the freezer for a chewy one in an airtight container.
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