Date caramels are one of those culinary magic tricks that you can't even believe works until you try it. You pulse whole dates with a few other ingredients, press them into a pan, and top with a bit of flaky salt. Just 30 minutes later you can cut out soft, chewy caramels that are free from added sugar (not to be confused with the loads of sugars naturally occurring in dates) and high in dietary fiber.
You didn't even have to turn on the stove.
But the ease of preparing date caramels is hardly the best part. These date caramels are incredibly delicious. Rich and creamy like classic caramels, they don't have any actual cream, making them a vegan-friendly treat. Sweet, chewy, and just a touch salty — they're the perfect little treat to share with friends or give as a gift.
Ready to try this culinary feat of flavor? Here's how to make date caramels at home.
The Best Dates for Caramel
Dried Medjool dates are our favorite date for eating out of hand and turning into treats. These plump, soft dates are easier to find at a local grocery store than their richer or softer cousins, plus their amber color and thin skin makes them easy to turn into a caramel.
Tips for Making Date Caramels
- If your dates are dry or hard, consider soaking them first. You should start with supple dates, but in a pinch you can soak your pitted dates for 15 minutes in warm water before processing. Drain off all of the water before chopping and puréeing.
- Cut the dates into small pieces before processing. The dates purée faster and blend better with the almond butter and almond flour in this recipe if they are in small pieces before going into the processor. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to finely chop.
- Don't blend them alone. Blending the dates with the creamy almond butter and the almond flour helps them blend faster — the fat in the almond butter especially — and makes for a more homogeneous mixture.
Storing and Giving Date Caramels
For long-lasting storage and extra chewiness, store these dates in the freezer. At room temperature, they have a softer, caramel-like texture, so be sure to wrap them individually if you plan to give them as gifts.
How To Make Date Caramels
Makes 24 (1-inch) candies
What You Need
pitted dried dates, preferably Medjool (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Flaky sea salt, for topping
8-inch baking pan
Measuring cups and spoons
Kitchen shears or sharp knife
Line the pan: Cut a rectangular piece of parchment paper to fit in an 8-inch square pan that hangs off 2 sides, creating a sling that will make removing the caramels much easier.
Chop the dates: Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to finely chop the dates.
Blend the caramel: Place the dates, almond flour, almond butter, vanilla, and kosher salt in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until a smooth, thick paste forms.
Press and freeze: Transfer the date mixture to the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Freeze for 1 hour to set.
Cut the caramels: Using the sling, remove the date caramel slab from the pan and place on a cutting board. Sprinkle with flaky salt. Cut the caramels into 1/2-inch squares. If desired, wrap the individual caramels in parchment paper. Store in the freezer.
Storage: These caramels are best stored in the freezer, where they will remain chewy. Store for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
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