A+ Caramel Apples from Plant-Powered Families
These caramel apples get top marks for taste and nutrition!
Makes about 2 cups caramel, enough for 4–6 apples (or more depending on size)
1 1/2 packed cups pitted dates
1/2 cup plain nondairy milk
3 1/2–4 tablespoons raw cashew butter (see note and nut-free option)
1/8 rounded teaspoon sea salt
2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
4–6 apples (see note)
Ice pop sticks or spoons
Optional coatings (a few tablespoons of either or several):
Unsweetened shredded coconut
Mini chocolate chips
Chopped dried cranberries
Combine the dates with the milk in a bowl. Let soak for an hour. Drain the dates, gently pushing excess milk through sieve.
In a food processor, combine the dates with the cashew butter, sea salt, nutmeg, and vanilla. Process until very smooth, scraping down the processor bowl as needed, and puree again. This will take several minutes.
Transfer to a container and refrigerate. When ready to coat apples, insert an ice pop stick into the stem end of each apple (if you don’t have sticks, try inverting a spoon so you hold the rounded end). Use a butter knife or spatula to coat your apples with the caramel. Sprinkle toppings on a plate or piece of parchment. Roll the apples in the toppings.
Place on a tray or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Serve!
Cashew Butter Note: I really like raw cashew butter here. It is very thick and dense, helping make the caramel thicker. It also has a mellow, soft flavor. Still, you can substitute regular cashew butter, or raw or regular almond butter.
Nut-Free Option: Opt for sunflower seed butter (add some cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to the puree to improve flavor), or omit altogether and just have a date paste.
Apple Note: If you have small apples, you can coat more than six.
Kitchen Tip: This makes a softer caramel. If you’d like a caramel that can be used as candy, simply omit the milk and combine the dates (unsoaked) with the cashew butter (or other nut butter), using the full 1/4 cup. The mixture will form into a ball in the food processor. Form into chewable caramels, and roll in grated chocolate!
“Snickers” Bars from Love Fed
If you’re a fan of chewy, nutty, chocolaty candy (and who isn’t?), you’ll enjoy this variation on the Snickers bar. You can use any date you like to make these bars; just bear in mind that the softer the date the easier it is to break down, and that honey and khadrawi dates, in particular, have a very caramel-like flavor.
Yield: 12 bars | Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 20 minutes freezing time
2 c. cacao powder
1 tsp. vanilla bean powder or vanilla extract
1 c. melted cacao butter
1⁄2 c. coconut nectar
1 tbsp. melted coconut oil
15 pitted dates
2 tbsp. filtered water
1 tsp. butterscotch extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄4 c. almonds or jungle peanuts
Line a 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper.
To make the chocolate: Place the cacao powder, vanilla bean powder, melted cacao butter, coconut nectar, and melted coconut oil in a small bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth with no clumps. Pour half of the chocolate into the parchment-lined baking pan, creating a layer no thicker than 1⁄4″. Place the bowl with the remaining chocolate in a warm place on your counter. Set the pan with the chocolate layer in the freezer and make the caramel.
To make the caramel nougat: Using a mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender, combine the dates, water, butterscotch extract, and vanilla extract until a paste forms.
To assemble: Remove the pan from the freezer and spread the caramel nougat over the hard chocolate layer. Sprinkle the almonds on top of the caramel and pour the remaining chocolate over the top until the pan is completely filled. Freeze for 15 minutes or until completely hardened. Remove chocolate from the pan and cut into bars. Serve immediately or store in the freezer.