mains/ vegan

Curried Chickpea and Spinach Fritters

Today I made gold nuggets. Gold in color, yes, but also gold in worth. Am I serious? Maybe a little, but I’m really just trying to convey how goddamn tasty these fritters are.

Deep fried to golden perfection (yes, I said golden perfection), these fritters have a savory, curry flavored center and a lightly crunchy outer layer. As if you need any more incentive to hop to it, here’s an unbelievably simply breakdown of what you’ll need:

A big bowl
Some chickpea flour
A few pinches of spices you likely already have on hand (cumin, chili, turmeric…)
Onion and spinach (optional, I ain’t your mom)
Water
Oil
Enthusiasm for deep-friend, crispy curry things

Did I mention these fritters are full of chickpeas and vegetables? Those things are apparently really good for you…

Ingredients~

1 1/3 cups chickpea flour
1 pellette frozen spinach, pureed
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder or paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp ground rock salt
1/3 cup water
Canola/sunflower oil for frying

Instructions~

1. Combine chickpea flour, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Add onion, spinach, and 1/3 cup of water. Stir until goopy batter forms. The consistency should be able to hold together on a spoon, not quite as solid as cookie dough, but not as pourable as pancake batter. Add more flour by the tbsp if it is too runny and more water by the tbsp if too dry. Note that the batter will definitely be too sticky to touch- that is how it should be!
2. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan until very hot and beginning to bubble. Drop a bit of batter into the oil to test if it is hot enough; the batter should begin to sizzle immediately. Drop large spoonfuls of batter in, only adding 2-3 to the saucepan at a time to prevent over crowding. It should take no more than a minute for the first side of each fritter to cook and deepen in color. Flip each fritter and continue to cook in the oil for a minute or until it turns golden. Make sure to keep a watchful eye as they brown very easily.
3. Set the hot fritters on a sheet of paper towel to cool. Serve fresh with mint yogurt or mix through a curry!

baked sweets/ vegan

Vegan Raspberry Swirl Rolls (Refined Sugar Free!)

Ingredients~

Dough:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps yeast
1/3 cup & 1-3 tbsps soy milk
2 tbsps melted Earth Balance/butter
1 tbsp rice malt syrup
1/4 tsp salt

Filling:
2/3 cup dates
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 tbsp melted Earth Balance/butter

Glaze:
1 cup soaked raw cashews (I quick soak mine for 2 hours in warm water)
1/3 cup & 2-4 tbsps soy milk
2 tbsps rice malt syrup

Instructions~

1. Heat up 1/3 cup milk in a saucepan on low heat. Once slightly hot (be careful not to scald!!), transfer it to a large bowl to cool until you can easily stick your finger in without retracting. If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast! Stir the yeast through the warm milk and let sit for 5-8 minutes or until very foamy and thickened. If your mixture doesn’t change it means the yeast is likely a dud, so try again with more.
2. Once yeast is activated, stir in the melted (but not burning!) butter and syrup. Add the flour and salt, stirring in a circular motion until the mixture begins to come together. If it’s too dry, add more milk by the tbsp. I gradually added two more tbsps. If it’s too wet, sprinkle flour on top and continue to combine. Once the dough more or less forms a large blob, transfer it to a clean, lightly floured counter and knead with your hands for 5-8 minutes. It should be easy to handle, aka not too sticky, and bounce back when you press your finger into it. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the ball of dough at the bottom, tightly covering it with plastic wrap and setting it in a warm space for 1 1/2-2 hours or doubled in size. I preheat my oven to 80 celsius and turn it off before putting my dough in to kick off the rising process (leave the door ajar initially if it’s way too hot).
3. While the dough rises, soften the dates (unless using medjool) by pouring just-boiled water over them until they are submerged. After about 5 minutes, transfer them to a food processor and blend until sticky, thick paste forms. Set aside.
4. Once dough is done rising, plop it on a lightly floured surface and roll it out (about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness). Lather the dough with a tbsp of melted butter, making sure to leave cm or so of space around the edges to make rolling it up easier. Spread on the date paste before adding a layer of frozen raspberries. Use your fingertips to gently roll up the dough, starting with the closest lip; be sure to tightly curl it in. Pinch the last lip of dough together and voila, you should have a great big log on your hands. Use dental floss or a sharp, serrated knife to slice off the rolls.* Give each piece about an inch of thickness and place them in a pan lined with parchment paper. Allow to rise a second time for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours or doubled.
4. As the dough rises, make the cashew sauce. Simply blend soaked cashews in a food processor with 1/3 cup milk and 2 tbsps syrup. Continue to blend until cashew fully break up and only tiny flecks are visible. Add more tbsps of milk (I added two!) and continue to blend to achieve your desired consistency!
4. Preheat oven to 176 C/350 F and once heated, bake the rolls for 15-22 minutes or until the filling appears thickened and slightly darker and the dough is kissed with a toasty golden color. Drizzle on cashew cream and enjoy warm!

* If the dough feels ridiculously warm and gooey, you may want to refrigerate it for 10 minutes or more until cooler/firmer. You don’t want the rolls to squish and flatten upon cutting!

vegan

Sweet Tahini Glaze

For years to come I will remember this day. March 14, 2017, marks the first time I baked with yeast. It was also the first time I made cinnamon rolls. Flat, shrimpy cinnamon rolls. No figurative language about fluffy, cloud-like dough here. Instead, you will find an overuse of the descriptor ‘shrimpy’. Jokes aside, these rolls were still yummy. They simply fell short in the trait that makes a cinnamon roll a roll as opposed to, er, a cinnamon roll flavored dense block of dough.

You might be thinking, what went wrong? Or more appropriately, what did you expect? To be quite frank, I expected a lot. Perhaps my overzealousness is most to blame for the opposite-of-pillowy final result. Sure, it’s summer in Australia and the humidity is basically suffocating, and sure, I likely over-handled the rolls with my less-than-dainty fingers, but more than anything, I think I was too eager to make perfect cinnamon rolls (aka magazine-cover-Instafamous-Pinnable cinnamon rolls). You know the kind I’m talking about. First of all, how do people make such pretty edible things? I’d like to know. Second of all, how do the same people make their cinnamon roll backdrops so pretty and neat? By the time I get around to taking photos my hands are caked in flour, there’s more flour glued under my nail beds, and my cute, recently washed black shorts are powdered in flour. Maybe I could unlearn how to make a mess in order to make room for new knowledge like: 1. how to make cinnamon rolls that double in size and can be used as life rafts 2. how to transform a kitchen counter into a scene out of a pretty fairytale.

Oh yeah, I forgot I had something worth sharing; a delectable sweet tahini glaze. This glaze takes the cake. In fact, it IS the cake. Yup, that makes sense. Unlike conventional cinnamon roll frosting, this one is pretty darn healthy, consisting of hulled tahini, rice malt syrup, and soy milk. The result is subtly sweet and slightly nutty, thanks to the tahini. As I iced the cinnamon rolls it became clear that I am still very much a child. Each roll had to be blanketed with enough icing so that little to no dough peeked through. Thanks to the heaps of sweet and creamy tahini sauce I was able to come out of this cinnamon roll disaster experience with a smile on my face and a very full tummy.


Ingredients~

Tahini Glaze:
1/3 cup hulled tahini
2-3 tbsps rice malt syrup or liquid sweetener of your choice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-4 tbsps soy milk for thinning

Instructions~

1. Simply combine all of the ingredients, beginning with 2 tbsps soy milk, in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until combined and continue adding milk by the tbsp to achieve your desired consistency. Drizzle over cinnamon rolls, cakes, muffins, cookies, etc., the options are pretty endless! (I’d even use this as a carrot dip)

breakfast/ mains/ vegan

Eggless Chickpea and Spinach Omelette

Chickpeas are probably one of my main sources of protein. I eat them almost daily, buying them by the bagful and soaking them over night. Then it’s only a 45 minute boil in a large pot and voila, you’ve got yourself a big heaping mountain of chickpeas. Usually, I’m overcome with a great feeling of abundance at the sight of the cooked beans; wow, that’s a lot of chickpeas! But sometimes I freak out a little, remembering that cooked beans should only be in the fridge for 4 days and there’s no way I’ll be able to eat that many chickpeas in that little time. So in a state of slight frenzy I’ll begin brainstorming sweet and savory dishes that would help make a dent in the chickpea supply. While this recipe is not the result of one of those brainstorming sessions, my raw chickpea cookie dough is. As is my beetroot hummus.

While you’ll definitely be seeing more sweet and savory chickpea-inspired recipes down the road, the one I’m sharing today shines the spotlight on a lesser known form of chickpea: chickpea flour. Chickpea flour is simply the result of grinding dry chickpeas. That’s all. Toss the flour with some chopped onion, vegetables, spices, and a little bit of water, and you have a very, very yummy pancake on your hands!

Ingredients~
Makes one large pancake

1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 pellets of frozen spinach
1/4 inch-thick slice of red onion (disc shaped), diced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
Scant 1/4 tsp ground rock salt
Pinch of ground black pepper (less than 1/4 tsp)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions~

1. Saute the spinach pellets in a bit of water on the stove until thawed and water has evaporated. Set aside.
2. Combine the chickpea flour, spices, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add the spinach, onion, and 1/2 cup of water. Stir until there are no chunks of chickpea flour and the batter is noticeably thinner than regular pancake batter. It should be pourable. Add more water by the tbsp if it’s too thick/clumpy!
3. Heat up oil in a medium-large pan and, once hot, pour all of the batter into the center of the pan (or reserve some batter if you are making several smaller pancakes). The batter should spread out on it’s own, creating a pancake that’s fairly even in thickness. Gently nudge the spinach around if it’s too concentrated in one area. I cooked the first side for about 6-7 minutes on lower-medium heat, flipping it after my spatula could easily slide under it. If you have to force your spatula under and it appears too wet/breakable, give it another couple of minutes! Cook on the other side for another 5-7 minutes, before turning up the heat and cooking each side until slightly browned and crispy (another minute or two on medium-high heat).
4. I recommend hot sauce, bean salad, raw spinach, and hummus as toppings, but you do you.

baked sweets/ vegan

A Peach Cake That Happens to Be Vegan

One of the protagonists in a book I recently read, All The Light We Cannot See, is described as eating canned peaches that taste like sunlight,

“Marie-Laure can hear a can opening, juice slopping into a bowl.  Seconds later, she’s eating wedges of wet sunlight.” (121)

Naturally, I became transfixed by the imagery created in that once sentence.

Coincidentally, my brother gifted me three cans of peaches for Christmas.

Obviously, I put the pieces together and made this cake.

The cake tastes like peaches, sweet and tart at the same time. There definitely isn’t an overwhelming tartness to it, but given the low amount of sugar in this recipe (1/3 cup rice malt syrup), the sweetness isn’t all you notice either.

Also, in an effort to make a cumbersome-free cake, the resulting recipe turned out Vegan. And soft, very soft… (meaning you’ll have trouble knowing when to stop eating).

A wedge of wet sunlight.

Ingredients~

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 can unsweetened peaches (about 1 cup chopped)
1/3 cup rice malt syrup
1/3 cup soft Earth Balance or regular butter
2 tsps lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
Pinch of ground rock salt (scant 1/4 tsp)

Instructions~

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F
1. Drain can of peaches and roughly chop them into 1/2-1/4 inch pieces. Meanwhile, whip the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the syrup, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and blend. Once well combined, stir through the peaches.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and add to the wet ingredients. Line two round cake pans with parchment paper and Earth Balance/butter and pour half of the batter in each one. Since each layer of cake is fairly thin, you may have to spread the batter out a bit in the pan to ensure an equal width all the way around. Cook for 18-23 minutes, or until golden in color and the center does not wobble when moved.
3. Allow the cakes to cool before layering with frosting or whipped cream, both of which you can easily color at home with the juice of strained fruit purees (I used 2-3 tbsps of raspberry juice to give my coconut whip cream a lavender color).

mains/ vegan

Creamy Cauliflower Mashed ‘Potatoes’

When mashed potatoes are served at a meal I load my plate up. My dad in particular is a big mashed potatoes fan. He grew up in a big (I mean 9 kids big) Irish Catholic family, so mashed potatoes, being a cheap, nourishing, and historically very Irish dish, were a common sight at meal times. Despite my enthusiasm for eating creamy mountains of potato, gathering the enthusiasm to rinse, boil, and mash potatoes was always a different story.

Funnily enough, what began as an effort to make cauliflower sauce turned into the joyful discovery of mashed potatoes sans the potatoes and longer preparation time.

I introduce to you creamy cauliflower mash. If you’re an old-school mashed potatoes fan you might be rolling your eyes. While I’ll be honest and say that the cauliflower gives this mash a slightly different texture (nothing can quite replace the pillowy softness of potatoes), it is a very close second. Also, it’s a chance to change things up in your diet without feeling like a fish out of water. There are no other hidden vegetables in this mash. I swear.

No one said you can’t douse the cauliflower in your mashed potato usuals; milk, butter, and salt will help anything taste good, right?

Ingredients~
Yields about 2-3 cups

1/2 large head of cauliflower (about 3-4 cups florets)
2 or 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground rock salt
Large pinch of ground black pepper (about 1/4 tsp)
1/4-1/3 cup milk of your choice

Instructions~

1. Boil cauliflower, garlic, and onion in the same pot until the floret stems are nearly florescent and you can easily fork them. Drain the water and use a hand-held mixer or food processor to blend the three ingredients together until mostly smooth. Add the salt and pepper, as well as 1/4 cup of milk, and continue to blend until smoother. Continue to add more milk by the tbsp to achieve your desired consistency! Serve warm and season with chopped herbs.

baked sweets/ vegan

The Healthy Alternative to Cake Pops: Pumpkin Bread ‘Truffles’

Ingredients~

Filling:
1 loaf pumpkin bread/cake*
1/3 cup & 1-4 tbsps milk of your choice

Chocolate coating:
100 g dark chocolate pieces (I used 70% cocoa)
1-4 tbsps coconut oil and/or milk to thin out the chocolate sauce
Liquid sweetener to taste

Coconut Topping: 
1/3-1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar (I omitted this but am sure it would be lovely)

* If you aren’t going the homemade route (it takes a lot more fiddling around, I know, I know), combine one box of white cake mix with 2 tsps of pumpkin spice and, here you may have to do some fiddling of your own, around 1-2 cups of pureed pumpkin. The resulting truffles should be just as good and maybe a
tad more sweet than a loaf of pumpkin bread would have made them.

Instructions~

1. Use your fingers to break up the pumpkin bread in a large bowl. Be sure to rub the large pieces together until the result is crumbly. At this point you will be questioning your decision to reduce a perfectly delicious loaf of bread to crumbs, but bear with me… Add 1/3 cup of milk to start, adding more by the tbsp if you can’t easily roll the batter into balls. It should be wet/sticky enough to hold together without breaking, however, don’t over add the milk either or the result will be too sticky to handle. Slow and steady.
2. To make the chocolate sauce simply combine the chocolate and 1-3 tbsps of liquid in a saucepan over low heat, stirring and gradually adding more oil/milk/liquid sweetener by the tbsp until the sauce has thinned out enough for dipping. There should definitely be enough chocolate for the batter (I even had some left over!) Now, stick a chopstick/fork/skewer into a truffle and dip it into the chocolate sauce until fully submerged. I find that it helps to tip the saucepan towards you so that the sauce collects and deepens around the truffle. Place each coated truffle on a tray lined with baking paper, leaving around a 1/2-full inch of space between each one.
3. Last and arguably most importantly (Insta worthy), toss the coconut, cinnamon, and sugar (if using) together and carefully toast them in a pan on the stove or on a tray in the oven until the coconut is mostly golden. Sprinkle a large pinch on each truffle and place the the tray in the freezer for at least 1-2 hours to harden. Or dig in earlier, I’m only here to give you a subjective impression of things. I found that letting individual truffles thaw for 1-2 minutes before I had them improved the flavor slightly (aka they didn’t burn my teeth with frost).

baked sweets

Healthy, Non-Traditional Key Lime Pie

It was 33 degrees (91 Fahrenheit) today, so I behaved as any sane person would and ate copious amounts of chilled pie. Not just any pie of course. This was a no-bake, zingy key lime pie with a vegan filling. Healthy fats in the form of pie, please. The filling is packed with soft cashews, coconut cream, and a generous amount of lime zest and juice. Featured on top is a layer of milky cashew cream and carrying the weight of it all is a base of tightly packed biscuit crumbs. This pie screams summer. But by no means should you base your decadent culinary experiences on the current season… I say take control of your life and make this pie regardless of the weather outside (if you’re in the mood for it at least, I’d never force pie on anyone).

No skimping on the crust with this one. Or any pie. Ever.

The cashew cream is by no means necessary for the success of this pie, but it does add a creamy, neutral layer that balances out the tangy, animated taste of the lime filling and the sweetness of the biscuit base. So yes, I recommend making it or whipping up some coconut cream (that has first chilled in the fridge overnight).

Ingredients~

Filling:
3/4 cup soaked raw cashews (I quick soak mine for 1-2 hours in warm water)
1/4 cup soaked raw macadamia nuts
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 smaller/250 g can coconut cream (chilled for a few hours first)
1/4 cup & 2 tbsps rice malt syrup or other liquid sweetener
1 tbsp solid/soft coconut oil
6 tbsps lime juice (about three large limes)
Zest of two large limes (reserve the third lime for decorative zest)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of ground rock salt

Crust:
1 1/3 cups crushed biscuits (I recommend original flavored Digestives if you’re in Australia and graham crackers if you’re in America)
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup & 1 tbsp melted coconut oil

Cashew Cream:
2/3 cup soaked raw cashews
1/4 cup & 2-4 tbsps rice milk or milk of your choice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Liquid sweetener to taste (I omitted this, and you may want to initially reduce the milk as this will be more liquid on top of that)

Instructions~

Preheat oven to 180 C/356 F
1. Combine the crust ingredients in a food processor and blend until crumbly. Press the crumbs into the base of a greased/lined pie pan. The mixture should stick together once pressed down, but if it appears too dry add another 1-2 tbsps of oil. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until divine smell emanates from your oven. Once baked, let it cool away from the hot oven.
2. For the filling, add the nuts, coconut flakes, syrup, oil, vanilla, and salt to the food processor. Blend until nuts/coconut break up and the resulting consistency is very smooth and thick. If your processor is large enough, add the coconut cream, lime juice and zest, and continue to blend until batter noticeably thins out/combines. If you don’t have a big food processor, simply transfer the first mixture to a large bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients.
3. Once pie base has cooled, pour in the filling, cover with clear plastic wrap, and set in the freezer overnight to completely avoid messiness.
4. Before you think you’re finished, whip up the cashew cream. Simply combine the cashews, vanilla, sweetener if using, and 1/4 cup milk to the food processor and blend until resulting consistency is smooth, with only flecks of cashew strewn through it. You may have to blend the ingredients for a while, scraping down the sides ever so often if your food processor is like mine (cheap). I ended up gradually adding 2 more tbsps of milk to obtain the consistency I wanted, but you do you. Allow the cream to sit in the fridge and solidify further before dolloping it on the pie (or don’t!)

Note~ The coconut milk/cream foundation of this pie is based off of Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Key Lime Pie recipe!

breakfast/ recipes

Pumpkin Bread Pancakes

Up until a couple of weeks ago, pumpkin resided in the ‘weird and best avoided when baking’ corner of my mind; it existed on a mysterious plane between starchy, root vegetables (like sweet potato) and toss-in-a-salad vegetables (think carrots and peppers), so no wonder I didn’t think of it as a reasonably normal baking ingredient, right?

Maybe I’d notice butternut pumpkin was on sale, $4/kg down to $2/kg, but no pings went off in my brain. Long story short, my knowledge of pumpkin in baking was limited to pumpkin pie. Only after further pondering did I remember the time I was hooked on pumpkin bread in high school. The snack bar at my school served up moist, dense slices of the stuff and I would have it a couple times a week. Realizing the uniquely flavored success that pumpkin can have in bread-making, I decided to take the risk and venture down a less-familiar route with it: pancakes. And boy am I glad I did.


These pancakes have an incredibly soft and moist interior, while still offering up a bit of fluff. I was pretty overjoyed with the ridiculously good-for-you and good tasting result.

Ingredients~

2/3 packed cup pureed roasted pumpkin (or canned)
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp rice malt syrup or other liquid sweetener (add more to taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup & 2-4 tbsps rice milk or milk of your choice
Pinch of ground rock salt

Instructions~

1. Combine pumpkin, lemon juice, egg, syrup, and 1/3 cup milk in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and whisk until well combined and the batter is goopy enough to drop off the whisk. If it is too thick add more milk by the tbsp (I added 3 more tbsps of rice milk).
2. Heat up a little oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add pancake batter by the spoonful. Each of my pancakes were about 1 1/2 heaping spoonfuls of batter, but add based on your size preference. The batter will initially spread out a little bit but mostly retain it’s plump pancake shape. Cook for 1-3 minutes on low-medium heat, flipping after tiny bubbles appear on the pancake’s surface.
3. Enjoy immediately with syrup, butter, and/or coconut yogurt (<— it makes for a divine combo).

baked sweets/ vegan

Triple Layer Date Caramel Slice

When I was a kid my grandma, sister, and I would have an annual Girls’ Night. My grandma would let us have free reign (within sane limits of course) to choose a few special items at the grocery store and then we would enjoy dinner, dessert, and a movie together. It was always a fun time. Because my sister and I grew up in Taiwan and only visited the U.S. during the summer, we would wander through the giant American grocery store aisles in awe. Compared to Taiwan, the rows of ice cream flavors, sugary cereals, and candy bars appeared infinite to our little dewy eyes. I can recall one summer when we (I likely did some convincing) chose both caramel ice cream and caramel sauce to be our dessert. It’s a memory I recall with a great feeling of abundance.

Though I’ve grown and changed, I think the vibrancy of that memory (or maybe just the fact that I’ve indulged in it all these years) illustrates my ever-persistent craving for caramel. However, just as age will mature a person or wine or cheese or a person’s taste for said wines and cheeses, it will also mature one’s taste for caramel. So, while the days of tooth-shocking, factory-processed caramel are behind me, the present and future are bright with rich and gooey date caramel. These caramel slices have a chewy base comprised of oats and coconut, a rich center made of mostly dates, and a top layer of dark cocoa and cashew butter to seal the the treasure in.


Above: straight from the freezer
Below: minutes after being handled in Australian summer weather

Ingredients~

Base:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsps sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
3 tbsps rice malt syrup or other liquid sweetener
1/4 cup coconut oil (melt first if yours is solid)

Caramel center:
2 cups dates
1/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter (or almond butter)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp hulled/unhulled tahini
3-6 tbsps date water*
Scant 1/4 tsp ground rock salt (omit if nut butter is already salted)

Chocolate fudge layer:
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2-3 tbsps unsweetened nut/soy milk (dairy milk works too)
3 tbsps cashew butter
1 tbsp rice malt syrup 

Instructions~
(These instructions may seem long and daunting, but I promise I’m only being thorough! The caramel slices are simple and straightforward to make.)

1. Preheat oven to 170 C/338 F as you prepare the base layer. Simply combine dry ingredients in a food processor and blend until a slightly crumbly mixture forms. Press down mixture in pan (if it doesn’t stick together when pressed down, add another tbsp or two of oil/water) and put in middle rack of oven for roughly 11-14 minutes. The edges should turn light golden-brown by the time you take it out.
2. As the crust layer cooks prepare the caramel filling. First, pour just-boiled water over bowl of dates until they are submerged. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.
3. Add softened dates, nut butter, pecans, tahini, and 4 tbsps date water to food processor and blend. You will have to blend for several minutes, stopping after a handful of pulses to scrape down the sides/stir before continuing to blend (time will vary depending on strength of your food processor). Ideally, the final caramel filling will be smooth and a rich, toasted caramel color. I added a total of 5 tbsps of date water to my mixture to obtain a thick but spreadable filling. You may only want to add 3 tbsps, but up to 6 will not drastically alter the consistency.
4. Once the base layer has mostly cooled down, evenly spread caramel filling on top and place in freezer for at least 30 minutes or until it has significantly chilled before adding chocolate layer.
5. To make the chocolate fudge simply stir together all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir for a few minutes until the cocoa powder breaks up and the cashew butter melts, thickening the sauce. Once combined, evenly drizzle/spread it on the caramel layer and return to freezer for at least 4-5 hours or overnight. After freezing you will find that the base layer has significantly hardened (think biscotti), so before eating you may want to let it thaw for a couple of minutes. Enjoy!

* Date water is simply the warm water left over after soaking the dates. Soaking your dates for at least 10 minutes in hot water before blending helps soften them and expedite the caramel-making process.