It’s that time of year! Cookies and sweets bars are being baked across the world, loving packed in a brown paper box and sent via the mail to all their friends. Of course the Northern hemisphere has this down packed and mastered the art of perfect mail cookies however in Australia the traditions are a bit different. The temperature means not many bakers want to turn on the oven for fear of heat exhaustion. I have learned from last year but I have opted for the easy way out this year.
Gift giving easy? Well, no, but small edible ones are!
This time of year people go chocolate crazy down under. Rows and rows of seasonal confections line the shelves of the department stores, each boasting to be the perfect edible gift this silly season.
I think I have spent more on chocolate this month than I have this whole entire year. Of course most of them are to give away in order to prevent headaches over what to give the friend you occasionally see at work. In reality it is just a way of fueling my chocolate hoarding and confectionery eating habit. Silly indeed.
As much as I love seasonal chocolate decorated in glitter gold and fire engine red; not everyone is so keen on the idea of adding extra padding to their frame during the summer months. With a pass history of sport addiction, full sympathies with those who hate this time of year for the sweets, feasting and late night drinking parties. All indulgence needs a bit of modestly which is poorly excised this time of year. Guilty as charged.
Also the friends who are label the “challenging” because of their dietary restrictions. While I might not be able to cater for everyone’s individual habits, I do like to have dessert that I give away after a dinner party or send over neighbors where I might not know the house holds eating habits. The seasonal sweet treats should be for everyone, not just the majority. So today in spirit of good will and joy I think I have found the recipe that most people will be glad to eat.
Pecan, almond and rosemary Caramel Slice is my way of spreading the dessert love just a bit further with one recipe. I love this time of year because the abundance of nut and spiced desserts and I think everyone would like to be to share in that joy. The middle is a combination of soaked cashews, molasses and date are processed to a smooth paste becoming a sticky caramel like layer. Perfect texture for holding all those chopped pecans and almonds without them sinking to the bottom. To improve the texture of raw desserts which can often be mistaken for uncooked fruit leather, I used buckinis (buckwheat which has been activated and then dried).
The sweetness is not the same as you would expect from a traditional sweet however the smoky undertones and natural oils of the nuts are preserved; so you are getting the real taste of the ingredients.This is why it helps to use the best ingredients you can source for this recipe as you will taste any rancid nuts or oils in the bar. Also I did not use normal chocolate for the topping but a combination of coconut oil and raw cocoa. To be really honest, I am not fan of the topping as it does not set as nicely as tempered chocolate. So take your pick of toppings but if you use normal eating chocolate they will no longer be vegan.
Call them millionaire’s short bread or caramel slice I have tried replicate the texture of the conventional slice in this recipe so you get a heavy layer of “caramel”; only mine has nuts and buckinis in it to!
Bars that you can keep in the fridge for emergencies are what most of us need this holiday season. Bars which are sticky, chewy, sweet, crunchy and easy? Yep, sign me up!
- You will need a high power blended for this recipe or else the caramel filling will not be smooth enough.
- Buckinis can be replaced by more almonds and pecans.
- I am not using coconut oil in this recipe because does leave a ‘coconut” taste, however if you cannot get cacao butter use this instead. .
- Soaked nuts in the caramel layer can be replaced with any other soaked nut.
Nutty bucklinis caramel slice
(Raw, vegan, refined sugar free, gluten free)
Makes a 27 by 18 rectangle slice pan
Adapted from Lemon pi and Secret Squirrel Food
100g dates, de seeded
150g almond meal
1tbsp melted cocoa butter
1 scraped vanilla bean
2g sea salt
Blend all the ingredients in a high performance blender until it comes together and clumps. It will be wettish and have texture of course sand. Line the tray with baking paper coming 5 cm up the sides and push into the base. Freeze until needed.
100g cashews, soaked for 5-6 hours, drained
65g almonds, soaked like above
200g medjool dates
30g cacao butter melted
10g vanilla extract
Blend all the ingredients in the blender until smooth. Freeze for 10 mintues.
40g almonds chopped
50g pecans chopped
Press the chopped nuts and buckinis into the caramel layer. Return to fridge or freezer overnight.
35g raw cocoa powder
50g rice syrup
70g cacao butter, melted
5g vanilla extract
Stir all the ingredients with a whisk until a smooth sauce forms. Pour over the slice and shake the tray a bit to get an even layer.
Cut with a hot knife, and press firmly. Return to fridge for 10 minutes. Serve from the fridge.