Something about these bars makes me want to dance around the kitchen in my undies and watch a happy movie....like Love Actually. Man I love that movie.
This recipe was developed on a whim. I was getting ready to leave to visit my parents for the weekend and decided I should come with a dessert in hand (because what kind of worthless, free loading daughter would show up to her parents' house empty handed? I would NEVER do that...ermm...cough). I pretty much threw the few ingredients I had together from my fridge and pantry and BOOM. Cashew caramel bars in yo' face. No, literally...they went right into my face.
Dates are pretty magical in my opinion. When you see what the caramel consists of in the below ingredients list, you'll laugh...with victory. There is zero added sugar in these bars (because dates are like nature's cracked out sweetener), so you can pat yourself on the back with each guiltless bite you take (unless you're at your 50th bite in one sitting...then I'm sorry to say, my friend, you should probably put the bar down and step away...towards the gym...or toilet).
If you don't have cashew meal on hand, ain't no thang - just throw a cup and a half of whole cashews in your food processor or blender and pulse until you get a flour/meal-like consistency. I see you rolling your eyes, you lazy piece...it's easy I promise...now get off your keester and just do it!
For the Crust
- 1 1/2 cups of cashew meal
- 3 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1/3 cup of coconut oil
- 1 egg
For the Topping
- 10-12 medjool dates, pitted
- 3 tbsp coconut milk, full fat
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Dash of sea salt
- 1/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Place the dates in a bowl of water and let soak for 1 hour or more.
- While dates are soaking, combine all crust ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour the crust dough into a greased 8x8 baking dish. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- When dates are done, add them to a food processor or high speed blender. Add coconut milk, water, vanilla extract and salt. Blend until well combined and creamy.
- Pour the caramel over the finished crust and spread evenly.
- In 30 second increments, melt the chocolate. Drizzle melted chocolate over the caramel.
- Place the entire baking dish in the fridge until set and slightly hardened. Cut into squares and serve!