Tahini-date salted caramels / by Suzanne

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When you're hankering for something sweet without added dairy, gluten or refined sugars I suggest you make these yummy caramels. But don't try them for those reasons alone. They're also great if you're the type who likes to flirt with ingredients you might not otherwise combine: dates, tahini and cardamom. They're also just plain great.

Easy to make, too, and only require a few ingredients.

These caramels are complex in flavour and very satisfying. The complexity comes from the tahini and cardamom combination.

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Above: I used medjool dates, which are nice and soft. If you use the typical dates from the grocery store try soaking them in some warm water first to soften. This is especially important if you don't have a powerful processor or blender.

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Above: If you choose to add the ground cardamom buy cardamom pods instead of ground cardamom if possible. The whole spice stays potent for a year (or longer) and the seeds nestled inside the pods can be ground quickly with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Ground cardamom, by contrast, loses its flavor rapidly.

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Above: The original recipe called for two tablespoons of coconut oil but I found this too much as it would liquefy during the blending process and pool here and there after I spread it in the pan. The caramels still tasted delicious but optically I didn't like it so reduced the amount.

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Above: If you're not familiar with tahini, it's a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is one of the ingredients found in the ever popular hummus. It's been nice to discover, over the years, how to use it in other ways, too. We like it spread on toast with a little honey on top. I also like to add it to dressings for drizzling on top of salads or roasted vegetables.

And now I can enjoy it in a caramel, and you can too.

xo

Tahini-date salted caramels with cardamom (inspired by this recipe)

1/2 cup tahini

1 cup pitted dates

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)

Finishing salt and/or sesame seeds for sprinkling

Add tahini, coconut oil and ground cardamom to your blender or food processor and blend. Add pitted dates (I add them one at a time through the small opening) and blend until you have a creamy and smooth paste. You may have to scrape down the sides and continue blending.

Spread the mixture in a loaf pan lined with parchment paper (with enough overhang for lifting out of the pan later) and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with rock salt and/or sesame seeds and pop in the freezer for an hour or more or until set. Lift out of the loaf pan, cut into squares and serve immediately.

These get soft quickly so enjoy straight from the freezer and store any leftovers in a lidded container.

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