Good Wednesday morning!
I am a bit on cloud nine today. Yesterday I had a blogger spot light on America’s Test Kitchen Feed. America’s Test Kitchen! I watched that with my dad growing up- so that is super cool for me! You can check my little flame of fame here. Is there such as thing as food blogger cred? Because I think that just might give me some.
Back on planet three, it’s all about caramel. Not the traditional, boil a bunch of sugar until it becomes a luscious golden brown and whip in some butter and cream (or their dairy free alternatives around here) kind, not that I have ANYTHING against that. But being so chock full of sugar, it is a very special occasion kind of treat. The caramel here today is a magical kind where ugly, sticky, and sweet dates magically transform into a smooth and luscious healthy caramel sauce.
Yes, the dates are back, and shine on. Not that they ever went anywhere. I love those little things. After figuring out ways to use dates to sweeten cookies, brownies, milkshakes, fudge, and truffles, I finally bit the bullet and bought 5lbs of medjool + 5lbs of (much cheaper, but less versatile) date paste. The date love has been strong as I find more and more ways to use them.
We are going on GAPS soon, which is a specialized diet to help heal damaged guts. With Natalia developing new allergies every few months to a year since her birth I think she really needs it. Previously food-allergy free me has also been becoming allergic to seemingly random things, and the reactions are getting worse. So, it is time.
GAPS takes out foods that aren’t necessarily unhealthy (though it removes a ton of unhealthy foods) but can be taxing on a damaged gut while focusing on super nourishing and easy on the guts foods. Part of what it removes is most sweeteners. Honey is allowed as is 100% fruit sweeteners. Since Natalia can’t have honey or grapes (grape concentrate is in most fruit sweetened foods), dates are pretty much the only sweetener she will be able to have. Mostly this will mean focusing on savory foods, which we already mostly do but I know we will need the occasional treat.
I can’t really say this was 100% trying to figure out treats for Natalia as coconut milk is also a no-go for her. This was actually a treat that Mark and I had. But, now that I know how to work it I am pretty sure I could make it with a different milk for her.
Just this time when I make something with coconut milk for me and almond milk for her I will not eat a tiny little sample of the almond milk product. I learned that the hard way- my mild allergy of annoyingly itchy ears if I have too much has grown to hives and days of misery over licking some almond milk off fingers. Which is another reason we are going on GAPS- my developing allergies and their increasing severity.
Even if she can’t have this specifically, I am feeling more confident the more I realize the capabilities of the date. Anything I can know ahead of time about preparing the foods she can have will be a blessing. GAPS is never going to be easy, but preparation is the key (another thing I learned the hard way).
But you aren’t here to hear about GAPS or allergies. Are you? You are hear for the luscious -surprisingly healthy- caramel I have dripping all over these pictures.
While the version pictured is coconut milk + peanut butter + dates + vanilla the ingredients are fairly flexible. If you wanted it stronger on vanilla (or rather more depth of flavor from the vanilla) you could use vanilla bean. Like I said above, I think other milks would work. But it might not be as creamy. As far as the nut or seed butters go, we tried it with both peanut butter and sunbutter (two of the four nut/seed butters I can have) and both worked really well.
With the peanut butter I was brave and added enough to taste it. It had a nutty flavor to it, which was a fun addition to the caramel flavor. With the sunbutter, I used half the amount plus another fat (butter/ghee/coconut oil). With less nuttiness added to it, it was a more traditional tasting caramel. It is up to you, but I do recommend using the smaller amount if using the sunbutter as it can be a little bitter. I think with most other nut or seed butters you could choose either the smaller, more traditional tasting amount of 2 tablespoons + added fat, or a quarter cup for a nutty flavor. Regardless, it is delicious!
I actually was not sure what to expect the first time I made it, but I was completely blown away by how sweet, creamy, and luscious it was!
If you try with different nut or seed butters or milk then the one(s) I tried, I want to hear about how they worked out! Comment here or use #worthcooking hashtag on a photo on instagram so I can see it.
I also would love to know how you served it! We served it with blueberries, as pictured here and in an awesome slightly secret way I will be sharing Friday.
Happy caramel making everyone!
- 16 medjool dates, pitted
- 1 can or 1¾ cup creamy coconut milk
- 2 or 4 tablespoons nut or seed (please see notes)
- 2 tablespoons neutral fat (palm shortening, coconut oil, ghee or butter if not df) ONLY if using the smaller amount of nut/seed butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- A drizzle of molasses, if desired for color (not pictured)
- A tiny pinch of salt if using unsalted nut/seed butter
- Blend the dates, nut/seed butter, and milk together until smooth (will take a few minutes) add the vanilla. Add the molasses if desired for color (if using cashew or sunbutter), add salt if using an unsalted nut butter or the smaller amount of nut/seed butter and wanting a lightly salted caramel.
I have tried sunbutter (smaller amount) and peanut butter (4 T). I have also tried tahini in simiar caramel sauces and it was delicious, but had a strong sesame flavor. Pumpkin seed butter will work for the smaller amount, but you will want to add molasses for color.
Almond butter will have a strong almond flavor, but should be delicious!
Cashew butter (or cream) would probably be the creamiest.
Savoring Saturdays @ Raia’s Recipes