A crisp, crunchy, and tart apple dipped in sweet caramel sauce just feels like fall to me. I thought it would be a great idea to make a healthier version of a caramel dip so I could eat this as a snack instead of dessert!
This no-cook dip comes together quickly and is made from just a few simple ingredients: dates, vanilla, and coconut cream.
Dates make this dip naturally sweet, and soaking them in water before pureeing turns them into a creamy sauce.
I use Medjool dates for my caramel sauce. These are quite sweet and moist, and are readily available year-round. Look for containers of them in the produce sections of most grocery stores and buy the plumpest ones you can find.
If you are lucky enough to find Halawy dates, get them! They make a soft and creamy caramel sauce that tastes exactly like butterscotch.
If I am serving this with apples, I soak the slices of apple in a little water with lemon so that they don’t brown. If you’re skipping the apples, you can add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the caramel dip to add a bit of brightness and cut down the sweetness, if you like.
For an even creamier dip, add a couple of tablespoons of coconut cream. You can buy cans of actual coconut cream (just make sure not to buy the sweetened kind), or you can refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight and then scoop out the solid coconut cream that rises to the top of the can. Save the rest for curries, creamy soups, or smoothies.
Serve your date caramel with apples, pears, strawberries or any other favorite fruit. You can even stir it into plain yogurt or spread it on your morning toast!
Date Caramel Sauce Recipe
If you choose to add coconut cream to your caramel, either buy cans of actual coconut cream (just make sure not to buy the sweetened kind), or refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight and then scoop out the solid coconut cream that rises to the top of the can.
- 12 ounces Medjool or Halawy dates – as plump and fresh as you can find
- 1 1/2 cups of hot water, just below boiling
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut cream (optional)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1 Soak the dates in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes: When ready their skin should easily to peel off with your fingers. Strain the dates from the soaking liquid, reserving the liquid.
2 Peel the dates and remove the seeds: Peel the skins off all the dates with your fingers. Split them open (you should be able to just pinch them open; otherwise use a paring knife). Remove the pit.
3 Puree the dates until creamy: Put the dates into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the vanilla, 2 tablespoons of the reserved soaking water, and salt. Process until very smooth, 5 to 10 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl every couple of minutes. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little water until you reach a smooth, spoonable consistency.
4 For a creamier sauce, add coconut cream: Add the coconut cream at the very end and pulse 10 times to incorporate.
5 Taste and adjust as needed: Taste the sauce. Add lemon juice or more salt if needed.
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