Like many of us, I’m unable to resist the overflow of sinfully delicious candy available during the Halloween season. I’ve been a lover of candy my entire life (and have seven
cavities sweet teeth to prove it) and only managed to get my sugar addiction under control during college.
Although I don’t believe in giving something up that makes me happy, this doesn’t mean I’m indifferent to the effect it may have on my health & well-being. Which brings me to the reason I adore vegan desserts – although they might be just as sweet and calorie-dense as their normal counterparts, there is something naughty about eating a tasty dessert that’s secretly good for you.
One day I was seriously craving a Snickers bar. So instead of heading out the door to my local drugstore, I beelined straight for the kitchen and embarked on a fun candy bar alternative to an old favorite. And now I’m kind of in love with these heavenly little dessert cups. They take some time to make but I promise it’ll be worth it.
Chocolate Salted Caramel Dessert Cups
(vegan – makes 12)
– 6 dates
– 2 Tbs. warm water
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1/8 tsp sea salt
Flaky Base Layer:
– ¼ cup cashew butter *
– 2 Tbs. coconut flour
– 1.5 tsp. maple syrup
– ¼ tsp sea salt **
Dark Chocolate Coating:
– ½ cup cacao butter ***
– 1.5 cups cacao powder
– pinch of sea salt
– optional: ½ tsp. sweetener of choice ****
– toasted coconut flakes
– roasted peanuts
– pumpkin / flax /chia / sunflower seeds
– dried fruit: goji berries, dried cherries, raisins
– jam or jelly
– nut butter
* alternatives: use sunflower seed or almond butter; peanut butter is also an option but will give a stronger flavor
** optional, add only if nut butter is unsalted
*** alternative: use coconut oil
**** I prefer to leave the chocolate in it’s bitter state (the caramel balances it out nicely), but feel free to add in honey (not vegan), maple syrup, agave, or sugar to your preferred sweetness. Add in a bit more cacao powder if the chocolate mixture appears too liquid.
To make the vegan caramel:
• soak dates in water for 1-2 hrs. (optional but recommended for better blending)
• blend dates, water, salt, and vanilla extract until very smooth
• optional: chill in the refrigerator while preparing other ingredients
To make the flaky base layer:
• combine cashew butter with coconut flour and salt, mix well
• add in maple syrup and use your hands to incorporate it into the mixture
• the dough should stick together well but it should not be sticky
• note: coconut flour quickly dries out the dough so make sure to work fast (see step 3 below); add in a drop or two of water if the dough starts crumbling easily
To make the dark chocolate coating:
• melt cacao butter in a pot over very low heat until it’s fully liquid, then remove from heat
• add in remaining ingredients and stir well to combine
• note: when ready to use, you might need to warm up the chocolate a bit
Optional topping creations:
• seed n’ fruit mix: toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted sunflower seeds, goji berries
• toasted coconut pistachio – shredded coconut (toasted on pan), coconut butter, chopped pistachios, honey
1.) Prepare the vegan salted caramel and place in the refrigerator to chill.
2.) Prepare the dark chocolate coating and set aside.
3.) Prepare the flaky nut butter base layer as instructed. Once ready, divide the dough into 6 pieces and create small flat disks by using silicone cupcake liners for size (see photo below). Once complete, pop out all disks onto a plate or wax paper. Use your fingers to smooth out the edges and make the disks slightly smaller to ensure they fit into the liners.
4.) Using the silicone cupcake liners, pour a thin layer of chocolate to fully cover the bottom. Move the chocolate around to coat the sides. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes until chocolate hardens.
5.) To make the layered candy: place the flaky base into each liner and carefully top with a layer of caramel. Top the caramel with your choice of seeds, nuts, etc.
6.) Pour the remaining chocolate over each candy cup, making sure to fill the sides and cover all toppings completely. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes until the candy hardens and remove from the cupcake liners. Keep refrigerated for up to one week; freeze candy to keep longer.
Now take a bit bite and enjoy!
Make sure to keep the dessert cups refrigerated and save all the decadent melting-in-your-mouth for your first bite!
The beauty of these little dessert cups is how versatile they are. You can add any topping you choose! I personally loved the addition of salted peanuts to mimic some childhood favorite candy bars.
Get creative! Add in raisins, almonds, jam, dried cherries, nuts…the possibilities are endless!
With the holiday season quickly approaching, there is no need to sacrifice taste for “healthier” options. With a little time, effort, and creativity you can feast on decadent desserts that will fill your body with superfoods!