Healthy homemade caramel made with only one ingredient; this thick sweet dessert spread will deceive your tastebuds into thinking you’re enjoying the most glorious, creamy, warm caramel without all the health-wrecking side effects! The recipe is easy and simple. It also happens to be completely raw, vegan friendly, paleo approved, refined sugar-free, sweetener-free, nut-free and pretty healthy overall; after all, fruit is the only ingredient.
Recap: There’s only one ingredient in this paleo vegan caramel. (Hint: It’s a fruit!)
Now, you might be thinking…
“Another one ingredient recipe???”
But this one’s kind of amazing. And it also happens to be the secret ingredient in a lot of my healthy dessert recipes.
So keep reading. Or scrolling. Or whatever you’re doing; just don’t look away!
The ingredient? Dates. They taste incredibly similar to caramel (or is that just my wacky sugar-deprived taste buds?) and are used by many people in the healthy food community as a natural sweetener and caramel substitute. They’re one of the sweetest fruits!
The definition of “caramel”, via Google:
- “sugar or syrup heated until it turns brown, used as a flavouring or colouring for food or drink.”
- “a soft toffee made with sugar and butter that have been melted and further heated.”
This healthy homemade caramel has no sugar or syrup. In fact, not only is it sugar-free, it’s sweetener-free as well. No honey or liquid sweeteners in sight. This dessert topping is sweetened with fruit one hundred percent. All natural.
It’s also butter-free and completely raw. No cooking, no baking. Not melted or heated, as the second definition suggests.
But it resembles caramel, therefore we’re calling it caramel. If you shape the date spread into little cubes and throw them in the freezer, you’re good to go! Caramel cubes. The kids love date caramel (I mean, how could this not be kid friendly??). Adults are crazy about it too (my homemade twix bars have date caramel as the middle layer; people are always raving about them and asking for the recipe).
So caramel it is, even if it’s healthy caramel and made with only one ingredient, without sugar or butter or cooking like “real caramel” requires. Some might not consider this healthy treat a real dessert because of its lack of refined
sugar poison but if they don’t see you make it they’ll never know. No one would ever have reason to suspect you didn’t add sugar or butter or oil, especially after tasting the magical caramel creation. Never let anyone step inside your fortress of a kitchen when you make this recipe; a magician never reveals his secrets!
The texture is thick, buttery and toffee-like – it would fool anyone! Fruit caramel is the way to go baby.
I’ve seen so many different paleo and vegan caramel recipes out there. Some call for almond butter or other nuts. Some call for coconut sugar (like this healthy caramel syrup). Some call for honey or maple syrup or coconut milk. Out of them all, I’d say this one is by far the simplest. Only one ingredient. Allergy friendly all around: no nuts, dairy, butter, sugar, or any of that bad stuff.
Of course, this is far from an original idea. Plenty of people out there make date caramel. I remember making it for the first time, years ago, and marveling at the finished dessert. It looked and felt just like caramel. And guess what else… it tasted like it too.
With a high-speed blender (like a Vitamix or a Blendtec) this is a breeze. Just throw your dates into the blender, whirl for a few minutes and voila – delicious one ingredient caramel in a matter of minutes. No sweat. The date caramel is rather sticky, but otherwise the cleanup is minimal.
This can be done in a regular blender as well but it takes a little extra work. You have to push the dates down as the blade is spinning to ensure the date mixture gets blended up smoothly. Fair warning: the date paste will be extremely thick, sticky and possibly a bit difficult to
bend blend to your will. The more dates you use, the easier it will be, so I recommend making a double or triple batch and saving the extra caramel paste in a container in the fridge.
Date caramel can also be made in a food processor. Same process. This would probably be my preferred method if not for the fact that food processors are a foreign concept in Chile, apparently. Despite extensive hunting, our searches have come back empty (or proved fruitless, haha – looks like they’re in need of a fruity caramel spread such as this). We couldn’t even find one for sale in Santiago (the capital of Chile and the country’s largest city); Chileans, get your act together, this girl needs a food processor!
I was first introduced to dates at the local Farmer’s Table when I lived in Georgia briefly last year. They are super mega sweet and I remember treating them like candy. I used to eat them by the container (they’re too sweet for me now, but boy did I love them).
Don’t know where to find dates? They usually have them tucked away in the dried fruit section of regular grocery stores, near the nuts. Try your local farmer’s market if you have one. If all else fails, make a trip to your local health food store – like Wholefoods or Trader Joe’s – and they’ll undoubtedly have these natural sweeteners in stock.
A square of chocolate paired with a large juicy medjool date = chocolate dessert bliss.
I’ve always been a fan of deglet noor dates despite everyone else’s love for medjool dates. Sure, medjool dates are huge and soft and super sweet. Perfect for baking. But I don’t know, deglet noor dates were my first love and they’ll always have a special place in my heart…
Plus, medjool dates typically aren’t pitted, and those hard pits are annoying!
This homemade caramel can be made with either deglet noor dates or medjool dates (or another variety of dates!) and will taste spectacular both ways.
Ways to utilize this versatile homemade caramel paste:
- As a spread for apple slices or other fruit. (Natural caramel fruit dip? Count me in.)
- Shape it into cubes or balls and stick in the freezer for a few minutes. True caramels, just like the kind my grandma used to have in her cabinet.
- Shape into balls then dip in melted chocolate, then freeze again.
- Use as an icing for cupcakes. The frosting will be thick and oh so sweet.
- Make caramel apple cookies (picture below).
- Make homemade twix bars (picture below also).
Super simple caramel apple cookies (pictured above) made with two ingredients: apples and dates (date caramel to be specific). Top with whatever you like. Chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, chia seeds, dried fruit, coconut flakes, cinnamon, coconut sugar, etc.
Limitless possibility for originality.
Probably my most popular dessert recipe to people with “normal” taste buds. Healthy homemade twix bars – only 5 ingredients! Anyone craving something sweet and indulgent, this one’s for you!
Kids love them. Adults love them just as much. The dogs were even begging for a bite (they’re attracted to poison, just like most human beings I suppose). Who would say no to a chocolate-coated caramel shortbread, much less a healthy version of this delicious indulgence that tastes just as amazing. Homemade stuff always tastes better, amirite? Especially homemade candy bars filled with delicious, thick, chewy caramel.
- Dates (any variety)
- Optional add-ins: sea salt, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, cinnamon, coconut, etc.
- Blend dates in a food processor or blender until a thick paste is formed. Add a little water if necessary.
- Use immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a couple weeks.
I never add water but if you're having trouble blending it all up, try adding a little liquid (either water or coconut milk). It will make the caramel spread thinner but easier to work with.
The more dates you blend at once, the easier it will be to make. I suggest using at least 25 dates at a time.
You will need to scrap down the sides of the blender as you're making the caramel to ensure it all hits the blades and gets blended thoroughly.
The date caramel will stay good in a container in the fridge for a few weeks. If it gets too hard or stiff to work with, heat it up slightly before use.
Caramel made from fruit. Who would have thought.
Even if you aren’t following a raw, paleo, vegan, nut-free or sugar-free diet, surely you love the simplicity of this one-ingredient recipe?