Sunday, February 22, 2015

Paleo Chocolate, Caramel & Almond Clusters


It's hard to follow a paleo lifestyle and not be totally smitten with almonds. I always have almond butter and flour in my pantry, and raw almonds are a staple as well.

When Nuts.com asked me to craft a recipe using my favorite nut, it was a double no-brainer. I love and recommend the site, and recommend their almond flour above all others. The pricing for the 5 lb. bag can't be beat, and the texture of the flour is the best I've found for baked goods.

I was inspired to create this goodie as I've had a lot of requests for recipes with less sugar recently.  I made a "caramel" sauce out of nothing more than dates (incidentally also purchased from Nuts.com), almond milk and vanilla extract. I was skeptical that it would work, but was very pleased with the results.

There is nothing better than a little sea salt mixed with dark chocolate, and the two together compliment almonds perfectly. I opted for sprouted raw almonds to make my clusters, as they're not only easier to digest but have an addictive crispness. They make these treats both healthier and harder to resist! They are loaded in healthy fats, protein and antioxidants.

In my opinion these taste best when chilled, as the caramel will be a little soft if left to sit out at room temperature.


Paleo Chocolate, Caramel & Almond Clusters

1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips)
1 tbs. coconut oil
3/4 cup raw almonds (or nuts of choice)
16 pitted dates
1 cup almond or other non-dairy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
sea salt

First put dates in a bowl of water and allow to soak for at least 30 minutes. The longer they soak, the easier they’ll be to blend.

Put chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Add coconut oil, if using. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between, until melted and smooth. Divide nuts evenly between the cavities of a muffin tin (mine had 12).

Drizzle with a little chocolate, just until all nuts are covered a little. Place tin in freezer or refrigerator to set.

Put dates in a food processor and run until they form a paste, scraping down the sides. Add the milk gradually (you might not use the whole cup) until the mixture comes together in a relatively smooth sauce.

Keep scraping down the sides of the food processor to ensure the date pieces are getting blended. This took me about 15 minutes.

Divide caramel evenly between the 12 nut clusters, then top with the remaining chocolate.

Sprinkle with a little sea salt and return to the fridge of freezer to set. When ready to serve, carefully pop from the muffin tin (a butter knife is good for this).


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