Oh. Em. Gee.
These are SO FREAKING GOOD! For real, when I set out to make a healthier, vegan version of one of my all time favourite Christmas baking treats, I was unsure of how they would hold up.
Can I be super honest?
They are even better than I could have imagined.
The smooth, warming caramelly nature of medjool dates mixed with maple syrup and real vanilla bean alone is to die for. But then you add Chocosol artisan cacao (an amazing Canadian bean-to-bar chocolate company) and sea salt and walnuts to that mix?! FLAVOUR EXPLOSION. My favourite part is that you can keep these little guys in a container in the freezer and enjoy them at your leisure right out of the freezer! No thawing time required. GENIUS.
I'm clearly really excited about my newest recipe creation and even MORE excited to share it with you to try!
So without further adieu, I present to you: easy peasy, delicious, vegan salted caramel turtles to enjoy over the Holidays (or any time of year, really. I'm not one to exclude lol).
2 Cups Walnut halves
1 Cup Medjool Dates
1/3 cup Maple Syrup
1 Vanilla Bean Pod (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract) (I got my vanilla pods from Chocosol Traders)
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/3 cup Water
*A note about using 100% quality cacao: the bitterness of the cacao compliments the sweetness of the pecan caramel clusters and the added sea salt on top brings it all together. Trust it, my friend!
**A note about Chocosol Traders and why I love them: this small, people-focused Canadian company does it right! They trade directly with farmers and craft small-batch, absolutely delicious quality artisan dark chocolate using quality ingredients. This has quickly become my favourite chocolate company and I highly recommend trying out their artisan bars! The Jaguar Swirl, Sea Salt Vanilla and Coffee Crunch are my faves!
1) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) Chop your dates finely and then add to a small food processor with water. Puree until you get a soft mixture with few chunks.
3) Transfer date mixture to a small pot, heat on medium and stir often.
4) Add maple syrup, vanilla seeds (you can slice a vanilla bean pod in half and scoop the seeds out) sea salt and coconut oil. *You can keep your vanilla pods once you've used the seeds and add them to a jar of coffee or coconut sugar to infuse it with the scent of real vanilla!
5) Stir mixture constantly, sure that it doesn't burn, until a nice caramel mixture forms (around 6 minutes).
6) Remove pot from the heat and add walnuts. Stir well so they're completely coated.
7) Immediately dollop into "clusters" onto the parchment paper. You should get around 15.
8) As the walnut caramel clusters are setting, add your cacao chocolate bar to the small pot on the stove and heat, until melted completely.
9) Remove from heat and spoon drizzle the melted goodness onto each cluster until it's all used. Top each turtle with a small amount of sea salt and set in the fridge.
10) Once they've set (around 30-60 min) you can transfer to parchment paper-lined container and keep them in the freezer!
I absolutely LOVE knowing these little bombs of goodness are available to my in the freezer. Being able to eat one mid afternoon with a tea has become a fun way to enjoy an afternoon pick me up this last week. And I'm not left with a crazy sugar rush / crash since the only sugar in these guys comes from the dates and small amount of maple syrup!
Make sure to tag me @mariebarkerwellness if you try the recipe! I love connecting with you on Instagram - and hang out on my stories daily!
Always in your corner,