Okay, so how do you make caramel sauce with no added sugar. Caramel IS sugar – it’s just sugar cooked to a certain temperature with some butter thrown in, right?
Clearly there is only one way to make caramel that is ‘no added sugar’ and that is to leave out the caramel part. Like low fat peanut butter. How do you make low fat peanut butter….. leave out some of the peanut butter and put something else in there. Doesn’t that thought make you want to read the label on the low fat peanut butter -yikes!
In this case however, the substitution is not scary – even if it is Halloween tomorrow. In this case, you use the sweetness of dates, the smoky flavor of maca powder and almond butter to make a dipping or dripping sauce that will make any apple proud.
Who doesn’t like a caramel apple? Okay, besides the mothers of small children – who doesn’t like a caramel apple? It’s a great flavor combo and I confess a favorite treat that I can no longer abide because it is just too darn sweet. So a recipe for caramel sweetened with dates caught my eye and from there I came up with something we will be dipping into with apples, carrots, bread, fingers and dumping on pancakes and french toast until it’s gone and they come begging and pleading for me to make more. Oh how I love when they beg and plead for me to make more of a healthier alternative ;-)
The original caramel idea came from Emily at This Rawsome Vegan Life as part of a cookie recipe that sounds fabulous I changed it up just a little, subbing almond milk for water and plain old sea salt for fancier salt
Happier Caramel-la Dip: (Substitute this for Nutella if you or your children are into Nutella)
1 cup dates
2 tablespoons maca powder
pinch of salt, to taste
3/4 cup water, more or less as needed (or almond milk – I ended up adding an additional Tbsp or so)
an equal amount of almond butter to the amount created by the first 4 ingredients
(If you don’t have maca powder, you could try using less liquid, or add a little oat flour as a thickener)
Make sure you use soft, moist dates. Do not throw hard or dry dates in your blender. If your dates are a little dry, soak them in a little water or almond milk first (for a couple of hours or more) and then use the soaking liquid and the dates and more liquid as needed to attain thick but creamy consistency.
This date thing is indeed not about size, but about plumpness and softness. A nice moist, plump, squishy date is what you want here. Apply that philosophy where you will and choose the date on the left!
Mix all that stuff up in the blender (a tough blender is recommended). It’s a bit of a mess but keep at it until you get a nice consistency. You may have to add a bit more liquid to keep things rolling, just do so a little at a time and scrape the sides of the blender as needed.
My original intention was for this to be the finished product – start dipping, right?
Well my husband and I found the mixture a little too sweet and a bit on the smoky side for kids to enjoy. I added about 1/8th tsp of ginger. A little better but still not blown away.
Then I took 1/2 cup of this mixture
Blended in 1/2 cup of almond butter
The dipping went from pretty and gentle:
Actually the addition of the almond butter also made it a lot healthier – much less sugar per bite, plus some protein – Dracula would approve and ask for more – “I vould like some more, please.” :-)
For other sweet dipping sauces, or pancake toppers:
Have a happy and safe Halloween!