Sweet sweet October [Chocolate Almond Caramel Bars]

Monday fans: raise your hand. Nobody? Hm … Maybe I can convince you by saying that this post is not just going to be marvelous but mmmm[hhh]arvelous? Happy Monday!

MiMM_new

Do anybody else’s  cravings for anything sweet become even more intense as soon as it gets colder outside? I’m longing chocolate no matter of the season but it’s definitely exponentially increasing with the decreasing temperatures.

But I digress. Sweet is the name of the game because is there any better way to start into the week? [This is a rhethorical question, by the way ;).] In my post on Wednesday I asked for your favourite chocolatey snacks – for a reason. Let’s say my consumption of the ‘real’ deal has gone up noticably in the past weeks. While I’m never going to give up on it [ha, not even considering it] I figured queasing my sweet chocolate tooth with a slightly healthier or actually just a homemade alternative. Michelle’s recipe for vegan Twix hugely inspired these.

Bar I

Not only was I missing key ingredients [read: almond flour] called for in the recipe but reading it I just couldn’t help coming up with my own spin on it in my head already. What sounds good in theory, though, doesn’t always turn out once put to practice. I’m happy to say it did for these little bars of deliciousness, though. For those of you concered with this: my changes also add a protein boost – treats with a nutritional bonus? Why not.

Caramel bars

You’ll notice I once more put an emphasis on using white almond butter in the caramel. While I’ve just recently discovered the amazingness of roasted almond butter it doesn’t lend the sweet and creamy flavour the unroasted one does in this recipe. I dare you to manage not eating the whole batch of sticky caramel all at once … I somehow did but I can’t tell you how. Next time I may or may not need to prepare a litte more …

Date caramel (2)

But trust me: self-control is rewarded. Rich dark chocolate that crisps upon first bite. Creamy sweet caramel. Slight salty peanutty base. Good thing I don’t have to share …

Treat

Chocolate-covered Almond Caramel Bars [makes five to six bars]

For the base:

  • 25 g pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) peanut flour
  • a pinch of salt

For the caramel:

  • 45 g of dates
  • 1 1/2 tbsps of white (!) almond butter
  • 1 tbsp of water (you might need to add more later)
  • pinch of real vanilla [optional]

For the chocolate coating:

  • 1.5 – 2 oz chocolate (I used 85 % dark chocolate)

Blend the dates in a food processor [or the ice crush attachment of your handheld blender] until a paste forms.

Add the date paste to the peanut flour and salt and knead to get a thick doughy texture. You might need to mix in water little by little depending on how sticky your dates are.

Shape into bars and place into the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the caramel by combining the dates, almond butter and water in the food processor. Blend to reach a smooth but not drippy consistency.

Once the bars have chiled for the time required to firm the up spread a thick layer of caramel onto each of them. Place them in the freezer [not fridge this time] until the caramel has hardened a bit.

Melt the chocolate. Cover the top of each bar with chocolate. The coating should harden right away. If not return to the fridge until set.

in hand

In case you’re wondering: yes, this post’s title was inspired by the movie Sweet November. So romantic, so sad. Perfect for the season. If you haven’t watched it yet: do it! Maybe with a Chocolate [Caramel] Bar to sweeten things up?!

Happiness inducing today: Lots. For one a nice long telephone chat with one of my cousins, Exciting blog news [more to come]. Oh, and Chocolate Caramel Bars – sorry ;).

Have you ever made your own candy bars or found any great recipes online? Please share the links! Amanda had an awesome collection in her Sunday link love post already.

What are your favourite romantic movies? It’s the season so I’m looking for recommendations. Preferably ones that have been released a few months or better yet years back so chances are my library will have them.

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Fudgy Dark Chocolate [Black Bean] Truffles

Oh hello there, Monday!

MiMM_new

Starting off with a clean slate once again. Not grieving the annoyances of the past [week] anymore [if there were any], making room for new and [hopefully] happier memories to take their place. If your last week was stellar or not: why not kick the new one off right with some chocolate?

Truffle

Could there be anything more marvelous than adding just a little more chocolate to your day? No? Well, how about a healthier chocolate fix?  No, these aren’t like ‘real’ truffles or a decadent bar of chocolate. But they are downright delicious in their own right. A smooth and creamy consistency, chewy flavourful chunks of dried banana and bits of rich dark chocolate.

Banana truffles

Mmmh, banana chunks.

Consider them a snack when the chocolate craving hits and you want to feel just that smidgen more virtuous handling it ;). Or simply because you’re like me and have a can of black beans to be used. Oh, didn’t I mention that before?!

Truffles

Technically you’d obviously call these muffins. But I like my mind games every now and then: Simply calling them ‘truffles’ creates a much more decadent and fancier feeling when popping one or two or five of these gems into your mouth. Who said treating yourself had to be expensive or include a major sugar coma? Treat yourself every day and feel good about it.

Fudgy Dark Chocolate [Black Bean] Truffles

yields 12 truffles/mini muffins

  • ½ can black beans, drained and rinsed very (!) well (130 g)
  • ½ small banana
  • ½ scoop vegan Vanilla protein powder [I used SunWarrior Blend]
  • 1 heaped tbsp (10 g) dark cocoa powder [German readers: Bensdorp brand is amazing!]
  • 2 tbsps sugar or other granulated sweetener [I used erythritol] (20 g)
  • 2 dried bananas, finely chopped [like these; not chips]
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3-4 squares of Lindt 99%, chopped

Preheat your oven to 300 °F/150 °C.

Blend the black beans and banana until very smooth. Add the protein powder, cocoa, sugar [substitute] and about four tablespoons of water or non-dairy milk. Blend again until well combined.

Stir in the chopped bananas, coconut and chocolate. Fill batter into a lined mini muffin pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the .

Let cool and then store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

These taste best straight from the fridge when the chocolate flavour has developped even more.

If you can’t get or don’t like the dried banana you can skip them. I tried a banana + coconut version and one without – both seen in the pictures in this post,. Just don’t skip the chocolate!

Truffles

These don’t last long so no matter what else is on my to-do list for the day: whipping up another batch of these is definitely on the agenda. Only to use up the new can of black beans I bought the other day, obviously.

I hope your Monday’s off to a great start!

Happiness inducing today: A morning and an evening walk in gorgeous fall weather – I skipped the day’s rainy periods.

Tell me about your weekend! Any fun or exciting happenings?

What is your favourite sweet recipe using beans?