Forget the chocolate slabs you used to know - the ones rife with chewy dark little raisins, and chalky almonds, and small beads of popping candy - this one is your new weakness (or strength, rather). With enormous big blobs of gooey salted caramel protruding from the gloriously rich and bitter dark chocolate, it's difficult to stop at just one. This is caramel slice reincarnated, sans the biscuit base that we all secretly loath. To me, snapping one of these little mouthfuls of solid syrup off from the block has the same strangely addictive sensation of popping bubble wrap.
It's easy to imagine that a concoction so decadent and sultry would be laden with lashings of thick cream and sparkly sugar granules by the cupful, but I bear good news: there is not one ingredient of animal origin in sight, let alone those with low nutritional value. What we have here is one big, rearranged blob of goodness. Gather round, friends; this is one recipe that you'll want to scrawl down and fervently throw together with a great sense of immediacy. Its simplicity is a blessing!
SALTED CARAMEL FILLING
1 cup of pitted dates, soaked in warm water until soft
1/4 cup of creamy nut butter (I used peanut)
Sea salt, to taste
BITTER DARK CHOCOLATE
1/3 cup of virgin coconut oil
2/3 cup of raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon of the salted caramel filling
- First make the salted caramel filling by draining the soaked dates, placing them in the bowl of a high-powdered food processor, and pulsing until a chunky paste is formed. Scoop in the nut butter (creamy works best at giving the richest, most aerated, and meltingly good consistency), then leave the processor running until the caramel is silky smooth and lustrous.
- Alternate between grinding in sea salt and pulsing, tasting it as you go. I personally add enough salt so that it is barely recognisable upon first taste, but lingers on the tongue afterwards. Spread this caramel mixture in a shallow tray, reserving a tablespoon-full, and slide into the freezer to set.
- Make the bitter dark chocolate by melting together the coconut oil and cacao over the lowest heat in a small saucepan. Stir the tablespoon of salted caramel into the warm chocolate, and stir until smooth. Pour half of the molten chocolate into a rectangular tray lined with parchment paper, and the other into a small bowl (so that it's as deep as possible for dipping).
- Once solid (or after as long as you can bear to wait), take the caramel from the freezer and wet your hands with warm water. Using a teaspoon, scoop small balls of the mixture and roll into perfect spheres using your palms, then place in the chocolate bowl and coat thoroughly. You should end up with eight.
- Drop these caramel balls into the rectangular tray of chocolate, two each in four rows, and drizzle with the remaining chocolate from the bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt or cacao nibs if you so desire. Slip the tray of chocolate into the freezer to set. Once solidified, transfer to the refrigerator - this gives the caramel a gorgeous, gooey centre as opposed to being rock hard. Serve straight from the fridge - be wary on a hot day, as the slab has the tendency to return to its liquid state!