Nadia Lim's Healthy Date and Cashew Caramel Chocolate Slice
Thanks to a mighty blonde moment I booked flights to Auckland rather than the required destination of Palmerston North for a sports nutrition conference I attended over the weekend. I have no idea why and how but I did! It might have something to do with attending many a conference at the Albany campus of Massey University and not even thinking about the Palmerston North campus. Sorry Palmy!
Thankfully a friend of mine (Kate from Studio Rubix), asked me why I mentioned my enthusiasm for travelling to the City of Sails. A wee penny dropped and the Air New Zealand call centre became my best friend!
This new travel itinerary meant I had to rely on good friends to transport and accommodate me so I needed to travel bearing edible gifts! And very delicious ones at that. This Healthy Date and Cashew Caramel Chocolate Slice from Nadia Lim was just the ticket!
While this slice is made with healthier ingredients than regular chocolate caramel slice, it’s not an excuse to indulge in more pieces and eat it uncontrollably. This slice is still very high in energy and should be eaten like any other treat. As one small piece enjoyed and surrounded by plenty of other nutritious foods. I have taken the recipe directly from the Nadia Lim website, however I used ground almonds rather than oats for a gluten-free version. The crunchy base is adorned by a creamy indulgent caramel-like filling and topped off with decadent dark chocolate, walnuts and coconut, making it the perfect gift to spoil friends!
You'll be pleased to know that after a plane, a car, a bus, another bus, a mad sprint and another plane and I made it from Marlborough to Palmerston North and back!
Healthy Date and Cashew Caramel Chocolate Slice by Nadia Lim
¾ cup fine rolled oats* (you can also use ground almonds as a GF alternative)
¾ cup coconut thread (shredded coconut)
1 tablespoon good quality dark cocoa powder (I used Equagold’s Dutch cocoa powder)
6 medjool dates, pitted
½ cup natural/raw almonds
pinch of salt
6-8 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or butter)
Date and cashew caramel filling
400g packet dried pitted dates
¾ cup boiling water
2 cups softened cashew nuts**
¼ cup pure maple syrup (not the stuff that’s artificially flavoured with sugar!)
½ cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or extract
Chocolate and walnut topping
150-200g good quality dark (at least 70%) eating chocolate (I used Green and Black’s Organic 85% cocoa chocolate – which has hardly any sugar)
1 teaspoon neutral flavoured oil e.g. grape seed, walnut, hazelnut, canola, soy (optional – all this does is softens the chocolate a little, so it doesn’t set too hard. DO NOT use coconut oil or butter as this will make the chocolate set harder!)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1-2 tablespoons coconut thread
Preheat oven to 180degC. Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of a square baking tin (20cm x 20cm) with baking paper.
Place oats/ground almonds, coconut thread, cocoa powder, medjool dates, almonds and salt in a food processor and blitz until a fine, crumbly texture. Drizzle in melted coconut oil/butter and pulse until well combined and the mixture holds together when you pinch it between your fingers.
Press mixture into the prepared baking tin, pressing down firmly with the back of a spoon or spatula. Bake for 15 minutes, then set aside in the fridge to cool while you make the caramel.
To make the caramel, place dates and water in a medium-size pot and boil, stirring frequently, until the dates are very soft and mushed up, and all the water has evaporated. Place dates in the food processor along with the softened cashew nuts, maple syrup, coconut oil/butter and vanilla. Blitz until nice and smooth – this will take at least a few minutes.
Spread caramel all over the base in the baking tin. Return to oven to bake for 10 minutes. Set aside in the fridge while you melt the chocolate.
Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a glass bowl set above a small pot of simmering water. Mix in oil if using. Pour melted chocolate all over the filling and spread it over evenly. Place in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours, or the freezer for at least 1 ½-2 hours, or until set. If it still seems a bit soft, return to the fridge/freezer for a bit longer.
Cut into about 25 pieces (a long, sharp serrated knife dipped in hot water will help a lot!). The slice will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
*While oats are naturally gluten free, they contain a protein similar to gluten (Avenin) that some people still react to, and they are often contaminated with gluten when processed and packaged where other gluten-containing products are. Some people on a gluten free diet can tolerate oats, but others cannot. If you are worried about traces of gluten, use ground almonds as an alternative. If you are coeliac, Coeliac NZ recommends avoiding oats altogether.
**To make softened cashew nuts, either soak in water over night, or boil cashew nuts in a pot of water for about 15 minutes or until soft. Drain.
Gluten-free (without oats), Dairy-free