I know…I’m super guilty of teasing you guys with this one! I totally would have had these scrumptious Chocolate Salted Toffee Crunch ready last week, but I was trying to wrap my mind around how to make caramel EASIER. Cooking caramel takes patience, scorches easily (which is no bueno when your ingredients are precious to you), is super finicky, requires a thermometer and lots of LOVE and TIME and ENERGY. Furthermore, let us not even get into how I burnt my greedy mouth with piping hot caramel the other day straight from the spatula…sigh. All in the name of cookies, and a sweet tooth.
( I did think briefly about using some delicious Sweet Apricity Caramels, but they are super precious to me and I didn’t want to melt my whole box down at an attempt at a caramel layer. (Again…greedy.) I highly recommend you snagging a box to hoard for yourself as emergency treats. If you do so before Dec 20th and use code SWEETHOLIDAYS2017 you will get 10% off, too! Maybe some day in the future I will do something with those yummy candies, though. Right now I needs mah CARAMELZZZZZ! *ahem, moving along* )
So what to do, then? Think think think, Sam. I remembered how dates can be made into a caramel paste and the “a-ha” moment came. Dates it be, yarr! I went raw vegan there for a while in an effort to stop my digestive issues, not too long before gut-healing AIP crossed my path, and there was a plethora of date action going on for sweetening things and such. Medjools are my favorite type of date. They have a creamier, softer and sweeter flavor profile versus Deglet dates, which are still delicious (and could be used in this recipe instead if so desired by thine), but to me they come across as more mealy, less sweet, and not as much flavor.
Let’s talk about the secret ingredient, now, shall we? If you haven’t heard yet about Yucan Crunch Crackers…lemme tell ya somethin’. These things are BOMB and so convenient! Just one ingredient, too: YUCA. That’s it. Super clean. I like to use them to make personal pizzas, for crumbling into soups, and for toasting then dipping into guacamole. They are one of best-priced convenience foods around, too.
I originally wanted a more chewy caramel center for these cookies, but due to the nature of the Yucan Crunch crackers, I knew that we were gonna need something more spreadable and creamier. Lest the crackers break into a bajillion pieces whilst spreading said chewy caramel and angering a lot of cookie-bar-seekers, as well as myself, in the cookie-bar-making process. The solution is delicately delightful! The bottom layer has a crunch to it that is reminiscent of toffee when combined with that creamy date caramel layer. When it hits your tooth and tongue its hard not to go, “Mmmmmmmmmhmmmmm.”
Need more treat recipes? Check these out, too!
Now, if you can’t do cocoa, AIP-friendly carob easily subs in for ye olde cacao bean. The chocolate layer is made with coconut butter and coconut oil, and while these ingredients are shelf-stable at room temperature, we need something harder for the top layer. In comes the chilled factor. You COULD skimp on the chilling part, but I don’t recommend it if you want to be able to hold it betwixt your fingers. The cookie bars are more stable, and the chocolate and toffee caramel layers holds together much better with the cracker when refrigerated. Not to say you cannot take them out and put them on a party tray for a little while…they won’t last very long once someone takes a bite!
- 20 medjool dates, pitted (about 2 cups when gently pressed down after pits are removed)
- hot water
- Himalayan salt
- 1/3 cup coconut cream
- 2 full pieces Yucan Crunch Crackers
- 2 tsp ghee, melted (for AIP, use refined avocado oil)
- 1 cup coconut butter
- 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (for AIP, use alcohol-free vanilla)
- 2 Tb honey
- 2 Tb maple syrup
- 2 Tb cocoa powder (for AIP, use carob powder)
- Hawaiian black lava salt for topping (or use Himalayan salt)
- Cover dates with hot (but not boiling) water for 5 minutes to soften.
- Strain water from dates well, then either discard the water or save for smoothies.
- Add softened dates, 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt and half of the coconut cream to a food processor or blender.
- Puree or blend until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides down and help the mixture move around uniformly.
- If the mixture is still not spreadable, process in 1 Tb of cream at a time until the consistency is just right. Set caramel mixture aside.
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and set to broil at 450.
- Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper, and on it place the Yucan Crunch pieces.
- Brush 1 tsp ghee (or drizzle avocado oil) on top of each Yucan Crunch piece.
- Broil for 2 minutes. Any longer and they will burn quickly!
- Set aside to cool while you make the chocolate (or carob) topping.
- Melt the coconut butter and coconut oil together (I used a 2-cup pyrex measuring cup and microwaved it for 30 seconds, but you can do this over medium heat on the stove if you wish).
- Stir with a fork until very smooth, then stir in the vanilla, honey and maple syrup until smooth again.
- Stir in the cocoa/carob powder and 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt very well until it is a creamy consistency.
- Use a silicone scraper to spread the caramel mixture evenly over the top of the Yucan Crunch.
- Now spread the chocolate mixture in an even layer over the caramel layer.
- Sprinkle a couple of pinches of lava salt (or just use Himalayan salt) over the top.
- Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes, or in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Place on a cutting board and gently slice with a sharp chef's knife into squares or desired shape.
- These are best kept in the fridge to keep the layers from softening too much.
- For dairy-free option, follow AIP notations.