Chocolate caramel slice has got to be one of Australia’s favourite sweet treats. Every bakery and café has one but they are often loaded with refined sugar. I wanted to create a healthier version of this scrumptious dessert using ingredients free from grains, gluten, dairy and refined sugar.
This slice has a slightly softer texture than a regular caramel slice but the flavour is incredible. It’s caramel-sweet with a hit of sea salt, a little nutty, and chocolaty, of course. My secret hidden ingredient? Gelatine. It helps to give the caramel layer a slight bouncy texture AND it’s good for you gut health.
Cook’s notes: Coconut oil was measured while in a solidified state. Other nuts can be used in place of pecans. Ground hazelnut can be used in place of almonds.
For the base layer
- 1 cup almond meal/ground almonds
- 2/3 cup pecans
- 3 heaped tablespoons of virgin coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
- 4 Medjool dates, pits removed
For the caramel layer
- 250 g / 9 oz. Medjool dates (weight with pits, about 10 dates), soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (60% coconut content, shake the can first)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
- 2 heaped tablespoons cashew butter (or almond butter)
- 2 heaped tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons gelatine powder
- 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons warm water
For the chocolate layer
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder, sieved through
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (you can use less if you prefer the chocolate layer to be less sweet)
- Prepare the slice tin.I used a deep 9” x 9” square tin for the slice. Grease a square sheet of parchment or baking paper with some coconut oil. Make sure it’s big enough to cover the bottom and the sides of the tin. Place it inside the tin, press down to the bottom and the sides, and cut an incision in each corner of the paper. Cut away excess corners and flatten the paper to the tin (see image below).
- Make the base layer. Add all of the base layer ingredients to a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Process on high speed until ground up into fine crumbs and the mixture starts to come together. Stop and scrape the sides a few times along the way.
- Transfer the mixture into the prepared tin and spread it evenly to cover the full surface. Using your fingers, press the mixture well into the corners and flatten it until smooth and even. Make sure there are no cracks or gaps. Cover with Gladwrap and place in the freezer, while you make the caramel layer.
- Make the caramel layer.Place all of the ingredients, except for gelatine and warm water, into a high-speed blender or a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping the sides along the way.
- Transfer the mixture to a small pot and place over medium heat. Stir continuously for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Dissolve the gelatine powder in warm water, stirring really well. It will turn into gelatinous, applesauce like consistency (this is called blooming the gelatine). At this stage, add this gelatine mixture to the caramel sauce and stir vigorously until well incorporated.
- Remove the tin from the freezer. Pour the caramel mixture over the base layer and spread evenly, making sure it goes to the corners. Cover with glad wrap and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
- Prepare the chocolate layer. Do this step after the caramel layer has set slightly. Add all of the ingredients to a heatproof bowl and place over a pot of boiling water (double-boiler style). Allow the coconut oil to melt slightly as you stir the mixture gently. Place the pot over medium heat and keep stirring the chocolate mixture until completely melted, well incorporated and glossy (about 2 minutes). If the mixture gets too hot and steamy, remove from heat and keep stirring.
- Remove the tin from the freezer and pour in the chocolate mixture. Spread it evenly, filling in the corners, then cover with Gladwrap and place back in the freezer for another 30 minutes to an hour. After that you can keep the tin in the refrigerator overnight before slicing, if you like. Otherwise, feel free to slice once set in the freezer.
- Gently lift the corners of the paper in the tin and transfer the slice to a cutting board. Slice into even squares and store in the fridge in the same tin or in an airtight container, separated with sheets of parchment paper to prevent the slices from sticking to each other.
- The slice will keep up to 7 days in the refrigerator. Serving size is 1-2 slices.
Soak the dates in hot water for 15 minutes.
Prepare the tin as per instructions above.
Making the base layer.
Making the caramel layer.
Making the chocolate layer.