Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tahini-Date Salted "Caramels"

This was a while in the making, because I actually ended up ordering dates online. See, I came across this recipe on The Kitchn, and they recommended Barhi dates, which aren’t in season for long. I ordered mine from Flying Disc Ranch, which only ships during the cooler months. (This has also made me order a few other things that can’t be shipped in the summer, because somehow I always seem to remember about chocolatiers at the wrong time of the year…) That being said, Medjool dates would work, too; your dates just need to be soft.

What first drew me to this recipe was the fact that these “caramels” are vegan, so I don’t have to worry about getting sick because of cream. I then noticed that they are sweetened only with dates, with no refined sugars whatsoever, so I like that! I don’t think that the term “caramel” is appropriate, though, because that’s not quite what they are (hence the quotation marks). They’re sweet and they melt in one’s mouth, but they don’t make me feel like I’m having a buttery caramel. The Engineer hit the nail on the head when he said that these caramels reminded him of halva, which, strictly speaking, I guess they are. I have to admit they really hit the spot when I just want a little something sweet, and since they have the perfect consistency right out of the freezer, it’s easy to keep them on hand!

1 cup pitted dates (ideally Barhi if you can find them, but any soft and moist dates will do)
½ cup tahini
2 Tbsp. coconut oil (just warm enough to be liquid)
½ tsp. ground cardamom (optional)
1/8 tsp. fleur de sel or other finishing salt (I used Murray River salt)

Combine the dates, tahini, coconut oil, and cardamom in a blender or food processor. You should have a very smooth, creamy, and thick paste.

Transfer the mixture to a parchment-lined loaf pan (or another equivalent container) and use a spatula to press it down evenly. Sprinkle with salt.

Freeze until firm. Remove from the pan and cut into bite-size pieces.

Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

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