Photography by Tracey Creed
Recipe by Tracey Creed
Words by Tracey Creed
Published June 16 2019
Updated September 28 2021
To prepare the base, line a 20 cm square slice tin or tin of similar dimensions with baking paper.
Add all the base ingredients to a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Using a spatula, press the mixture into the base of your prepared tin and place in the fridge while you prepare the caramel.
To make the salted caramel, add all the ingredients to a blender and process until thick and smooth. Depending on your blender this may take a while. Scrape down the sides of your blender as necessary and if you have one, use a tamper. I never used to use mine but I use it all the time now. It may take 5 to 10 minutes but you’ll want a super smooth caramel so it will be worth it. Spread over the base and place in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate layer.
To prepare the chocolate layer place the cacao, oil and rice malt syrup in a medium heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (the double boiler method) and using a spatula stir frequently for a couple of minutes until smooth.
Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer and place in the fridge again for a few hours. Once set, remove and slice into bars or squares and return to the fridge to store, removing bars as required. Your caramel slice will keep for up to 2 weeks. If it even lasts that long.
This caramel slice recipe is about making room for nostalgia, it is about the fact that food that tastes good is food that tastes good. There’s no butter or cream involved and in retrospect, this version is supremely better than anything I ever had as a child growing up; when veganism was viewed in terms of what you were giving up, not as in what you would gain. And so this recipe is vegan - all our recipes are, and it is as much about what ingredients are used as it is about which ones are not. But ultimately, the labels aren’t what interests me. What interests me is that this food will nourish me, and if you also wish to be nourished - then this caramel slice is for you.
The base is mostly dates and oats, the caramel a delicious blend of dates and almond butter, actually this recipe is mostly dates. The original recipe used to develop this caramel called for 12 Medjool dates and the first time I made this recipe I used Medjool dates; and I weighed them - it’s approximately 240 grams and that measured in cups is one and a quarter. And so then I repeated the same recipe with 240 grams of those super dry dates you’ll find for a few dollars anywhere, they will make a perfectly respectable caramel. Yes, they will take a little longer to blend but honestly, the result is more or less the same. I’d also seen a recipe with coffee grinds, 2-3 teaspoons, it’s an option. I like coffee, I tried it, I’d highly recommend it.
Elsewhere we’ve written about the daily compromising required to balance conflicting issues regarding our purchases and so given my predisposition (and our predisposition) for all things local, for me, and for us, we used Fix and Fogg’s Almond Butter for this recipe. They create wonderful nut butter, sustainably and fairly. They’re also one of the few local companies Living Wage accredited - because they “believe happy people, make the best butters,” and that takes something - to pay more than a government minimum requirement. Fix and Fogg are everything I’m for: they do their part for the environment, focus on reducing food waste, they recycle - offering a public jar return at their Eva Street window, the same jar return system extended to Good For stores, where I tend to purchase mine. They also deliver their nut butters locally by bicycle within the Wellington CBD and are partners with Free Store, who freely redistribute quality, fresh surplus food from Wellington's eateries directly to those in need of it.
My favourites are their Coffee And Maple Peanut Butter (with Supreme’s Coffee Supreme Blend and pure Canadian Maple syrup). It’s all sorts of wonderful. And, their Smoke And Fire Peanut Butter (with organic locally grown chillies, natural Manuka smoke and Spanish smoked paprika). Lots of smoke.
You can visit their website for more information on their products. And with all things, to connect yourself to what you are consuming, food or otherwise and to do so with intent - where there is a choice, we owe it to ourselves to consciously make those decisions, and to others who are equally a part of the system. Transparency and traceability are enablers of change; lessened when the industry, when marketing and advertising misappropriate the definition of these terms. I think if we want to change the system, then asking questions is a start.
Unchecked labour exploitation, industrialisation and wage stagnation have created inequality and poverty, and it is disappointing that there are so few brands showing the leadership required to address the issue. If we want to see an improvement in human rights, social impacts and environmental sustainability within the food industry then we must manage our own sources of sustenance, shaping them to our values, our morals and support brands who prioritise the protection of its people, the health and wellbeing of our communities, our ecosystems.
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