Raw chocolate has to be one of the best things I've discovered since pursuing a healthier, plant-based lifestyle. It's incredibly easy to make and versatile as all get out---not to mention deeeeelish! These little chocolate treats are a vegan, refined sugar-free take on a standard crispy caramel bar.
The ingredients for these Crunchy Caramel Cups are exponentially better for your body than a traditional overly-processed candy bar because: 1) you can actually read what they are; 2) they are all whole, plant-based foods; 3) they have a beneficial effect on your body.
Raw, virgin coconut oil provides the body with good-for-you fats that improve hair, skin, and nails as well as boosting your metabolism and thwarting further cravings. Raw cacao is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients while helping to promote cardiovascular health. Pure maple syrup is unrefined and therefore contains many minerals and vitamins that are vital to bodily functions, making it superior over processed white sugar. Quinoa is a complete protein that contains many vitamins and minerals as well as fiber to keep you full. (Note: the crispy quinoa cereal I use has no added oil/seasoning/etc.) Last but not least, dates are a low-glycemic food that is loaded with fiber--meaning it won't raise your blood sugar or cause a sugar crash!
Basically, one of these chocolatey, crispy, caramely cups is a far superior choice for a snack or dessert than any conventionally store-bought chocolate bar. Make a batch and give them to friends for a taste test: I know mine approve!
Crunchy Caramel Cups
Makes 12 bite-sized cups
1 cup virgin coconut oil
¾ c. cacao powder (or non-alkalized cocoa powder)
½ c. maple syrup
¼ c. crispy quinoa (or crispy brown rice cereal)
8 dates, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes
Line a cupcake tin with 12 cupcake liners.
Slowly melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat. Take off the heat when it’s completely liquified and add the cacao and maple syrup. Use a whisk to combine until smooth. Spoon a tablespoon of the liquid chocolate into each cupcake liner then add a spoonful of the crispy quinoa on top. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to set.
Meanwhile, drain your soaked dates and cut out their pits. Place into a food processor or high-powered blender and puree on high until a smooth date-paste forms. This is your raw caramel.
Remove the cupcake tin from the freezer and place a teaspoon-sized ball of the caramel on top of each chocolate disk. Wet your fingers and press each dollop of caramel out so it creates a thin circular layer. Top this layer with two tablespoons of your liquid chocolate in each cupcake liner. Place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, or until set and enjoy!