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Column: A Date with Caramel

Date+caramel+sauce+that+I+made.+This+sauce+dips+well+with+apples+%E2%80%94+especially+a+crisp+variety+like+Braeburn+or+Granny+Smith%2C+as+pictured+here.+
Date caramel sauce that I made. This sauce dips well with apples — especially a crisp variety like Braeburn or Granny Smith, as pictured here.

Date caramel sauce that I made. This sauce dips well with apples — especially a crisp variety like Braeburn or Granny Smith, as pictured here.

Photo by Anna Allgeyer

Photo by Anna Allgeyer

Date caramel sauce that I made. This sauce dips well with apples — especially a crisp variety like Braeburn or Granny Smith, as pictured here.

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When’s the last time you caught yourself in a Pinterest rabbit hole?  One second, you’re looking for pretty appetizer plates for your mom’s birthday. And the next it’s 45 minutes later, and you’ve clicked yourself to DIY planting boxes. I detest these rabbit holes, but occasionally, they can lead you to a real gem.

It was a boring Tuesday when I came upon this, originally looking for homemade flower bouquet designs for a friend’s performance, but I ended up deep in the dark and dangerous world of Pinterest food boards.

I had always seen these boards from the corner of my eye, but it always evaded me as something hipster, something odd and unnecessary. But that changed when I tried it for myself.

Date Caramel. First, why am I talking about anything but the delicious, original caramel?  As it turns out, making caramel yourself can be disastrous without a candy thermometer, and watching sugar just slightly burn until you think it is done by eye is not the ideal manner in which I like to spend my Sunday afternoons.  Additionally, the basic recipe is white sugar, cream and butter. All delicious but not exactly nutritious. 

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I love caramel on ice cream, coffee, brownies, as a cake filling and even on some grilled fruit. I also found this amazing recipe for a caramel apple dutch baby… if you don’t know what a dutch baby is, do yourself a favor and check out this amazing dessert breakfast hybrid.  While this one has caramel and apples, the possibilities are endless. 

This recipe is a great substitute for your dairy free friends,= or just to have around the house.  My favorite use I’ve found so far is for apple dipping. I’m almost tempted to keep my version of the recipe secret; it’s so good!

I experimented a lot with different recipes in the proverbial Pinterest web, and what I came up with is a thick sauce that can be customized depending on how much liquid is added.  I used coconut milk from a can as part of my base, and I really think the creaminess of it added to the lush quality of the caramel dip. Almond or cashew milk might give the sauce a looser body without adding too much extra flavor, as the coconut definitely lended its distinctiveness to the sauce.  However, I’m not coconut opposed, and neither is the rest of my family; so no problems here!

Ingredients

1/2 cup of pitted medjool dates, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes

1/2 cup of non-dairy (or dairy, live your best life!) milk 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

One generous pinch of salt 

Recipe

Remove the dates from their bath and place into the base of a blender. Add the milk, vanilla and salt, and blend until smooth. To get a more caramel-like sauce, keep blending for a really smooth texture.  Add more milk for a thinner consistency, or more dates for a thicker, dipping sauce.

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