Since I didn’t post on Sunday, Merry Late Christmas! I hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend filled with plenty of laughs, good food, and great company.
Our Christmas weekend was quieter than our past ones, mostly because we broke tradition and didn’t head down to L.A. to celebrate with our Southern Californian relatives. Although I dearly missed the company of my cousins and the rest of my extended family, this Christmas weekend surprisingly ended up as one of my more memorable ones.
Perhaps it was because I spent so much more time present with my parents, grandma, and Mark. Hardly any time was spent sitting on the couch and mindlessly staring at a screen. Our days were spent introducing my parents to easy local hiking trails where the nippy winter frost left my fingers numb for hours. We cooked in the kitchen as holiday music played in the background. We ate delicious food that wasn’t always healthy but still made my taste buds happy. All in all, we had a good balance of outdoor activities and indoor feasting. (This year was probably the first year that Mark and I consistently exercised during the holidays! Score!)
Along with all of the holiday meal prepping and time spent out in nature, Mark and I even scrounged up time to play chocolatier and attempt some Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Date Caramels that I’ve been eying on Heart Beet Kitchen.
Healthy? Yes. Vegan? Yes. Refined sugar free? Yes! Yes! Yes!
So yeah, toss out your box of Godiva or Russel Stover chocolates people! I have some healthy sea salt date caramels where the outer layer of chocolate cracks as your teeth sink into the gooey, chewy caramel-y goodness. This was our holiday sweet treat, and boy, was it worth every bite!
Dark chocolate sea salt caramels are one of my all time favorites. I literally have to force myself to only buy those when I’m on vacation because it’s the only way I can ensure that I won’t constantly have them in my home and make them a staple in my diet.
So yeah, it’s quite painful that I have to cut myself off from my favorite candy for such long periods of time (…first world problems, I know…), but when I stumbled on this recipe, I crossed my fingers and hoped and hoped that maybe I could eat them more frequently.
My prayers were answered. Phew!
Very slightly adapted from Heart Beet Kitchen
- 1 cup packed medjool dates (pitted)
- 1 tablespoon all natural unsalted peanut butter (or almond butter)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2½ tablespoon almond meal
- About 120-125 grams dark chocolate (at least 70% dark and chopped)
- Sea salt to top
- Toss the dates, peanut butter, vanilla extract, hot water, and salt into a food processor and process until smooth. You may need to use a rubber spatula to occasionally scrape down the sides. Add the almond meal and process until everything is smooth.
- Scrape out the date mixture onto a baking sheet that is lined with either a silicone baking mat or greased parchment paper. Flatten and spread it out until it is in the shape of a square/rectangle and is about ½ inch thick. Freeze for about an hour.
- About 20 minutes before you remove the caramel from the freezer, temper the chocolate by bringing a small pot of water to a boil and lower it to a simmer. Place a metal bowl right over the pot but make sure it does not touch the water.
- Add about ¾ of your chocolate shavings into the bowl and stir with a rubber spatula. Once the chocolate has melted, remove the metal bowl from the pot and add the rest of the chocolate into the bowl. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted.
- Quickly remove the caramels from the freezer and cut them into small squares. Use a fork (don't insert the fork directly into the squares, scoop them) and coat the caramels in chocolate. As you place the chocolate covered caramels down on a plate lined with greased parchment paper, sprinkle a little bit of sea salt over the chocolates (don't wait until the chocolate hardens or else the salt won't adhere).
- Leave the chocolates at room temperature and enjoy!
They have now all entered my tummy! They’re supposed to be able to last at least a week unrefrigerated, but they disappeared into many bellies before I could fully test that.
Anyways, I hope you all enjoy plenty of healthy delicious treats for the rest of the holiday season. Stay healthy and happy y’all! Remember, even though you should have some indulgences during the holidays, life is about balance. So don’t forget to eat your fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes!