Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Healthy Coconut Sugar Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread // Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free

She's So Lucy // Healthy Coconut Sugar Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread Recipe

This recipe has been a long, long time in the making. I'm talking way before She's So Lucy was even properly thought of. Millionaire's Shortbread is a true baking Godsend, that crumbly base and silky chocolate topping sandwiching a rich slab of caramel together - what's not to like?!

Over the past three/four years, I've seen many 'healthy' millionaire's shortbread recipe's come by. Whilst I love seeing people get creative an make 'healthier' versions of a classic sweet treat, it is just boring to see the same old date based, date caramel so-called millionaire's shortbread recipe.

You see, despite being someone who loves living a healthier lifestyle in this day and age, I really don't like dates. They're alright, in are moderation but otherwise they are over used and are over powering. I've tried about three different recipes that involve dates where I didn't find the date taste to overwhelm the flavour. Everything else, all I can taste is gummy dates, eurgh!
She's So Lucy // Healthy Coconut Sugar Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread Recipe
She's So Lucy // Healthy Coconut Sugar Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread Recipe
So, my refined sugar alternative of choice is absolutely coconut sugar. It's so versatile, can easily be used as a baking substitute and has a lovely, dark caramel flavour. In all honesty, it's really no better than normal sugar, but none of these sugar alternatives are (sugar is sugar after all!). However it does offer some nutritional benefits, shall we say. It's low GI, so releases much slower into the bloodstream than regular sugar; and it contains zinc, iron, potassium and calcium. But at the end of the day, it's still sugar and needs to be consumed in moderation... But I won't judge!

I only attempted this recipe very recently. Like I said I've been wanting to create this for years now, but life has just been so full on over the last few years that I've not had the chance, let alone a chance to even think at times. However, everything has changed recently as hip-hip hooray, after nearly a year of hunting, I've finally been offered a 'big girl job' in what I've been wanting to do for so long - digital marketing. So now that weekend's are completely free, and my life has gone from working shifts to working the 9-5 kinda life, things are a lot more stable!
This has meant I now have more time to experiment in the kitchen, and how I've missed it!

So, here's the thing with this recipe. With my love for coconut sugar, I was on a mission to make salted caramel sauce with coconut sugar. Except, I'm also pretty much dairy free (except for the odd tub or two of ice cream... and feta cheese!). So, what could I use to replace double cream and butter? Coconut milk! Except, have you tried making salted caramel sauce with coconut sugar and coconut milk? It's not at all as easy as it sounds!
The first attempt - I burnt the sugar. Delicious.
The second attempt (aka the first time I attempted making millionaire's shortbread) - the caramel was too runny and went bloody EVERYWHERE!
The third attempt - she is a beauty and she features in this recipe today.

I sought out inspiration for all elements online and there are a lot of random, duff recipes for all these elements out there unfortunately, but I promise you that this recipe is a keeper. Trust me, it's easy peasy and tastes delicious too. Ready for it?
She's So Lucy // Healthy Coconut Sugar Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread Recipe
Healthy Coconut Sugar Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread

Makes 16 small squares, or 9 generous squares
You will need
One square baking tin, lined with baking paper
Food processor
Spatula
Ingredients
For the shortbread base
130g oats
130g ground almonds
4tbsp maple syrup
2tbsp coconut oil
1tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

For the salted caramel
1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled in the fridge (use only the cream from the top of the can)
85g coconut sugar
2tbsp water
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt
2tbsp cashew/almond/peanut butter

For the chocolate topping (see notes)
100g coconut oil
60g raw cacao powder
4tbsp maple syrup (and more to taste)
1tsp vanilla extract
Sea salt

1. To make the shortbread base, put the oats in a food processor and blitz until a fine flour consistency forms. Add in the rest of the shortbread ingredients and blitz again until it combines together into a big ball. Add a tablespoon of water at a time if it isn't coming together and looks a bit crumbly.

2. Pop the bowl in your lined tin and squash down into the edges and corners of the pan. Use the back of a spoon to flatten and then put in the freezer.

3. Take your can of coconut milk out of the fridge and scoop out the cream into a bowl. Don't worry if you get the odd bit of water in the mix. Give it all a bit of a stir in the bowl to make it creamier.

4. In a saucepan, add in the sugar, water and lemon juice and let it come to a boil over a low-medium heat.Use the spatula to scrape down any bits of sugar or caramel on the side of the pan. This will happen within a matter of minutes.

5. Add in the coconut cream and a good pinch of sea salt, and reduce the heat down to a low simmer. Let it simmer away for 15 minutes, scraping down the edges of the pan with the spatula every few minutes or so.

6. After 15 minutes, remove from the heat and add in the cashew butter, or nut butter of choice. Take a few minutes to really stir it in until there are barely any specks of the nut butter. Make sure you taste the caramel to see if it needs anymore sea salt, and add in a sprinkle more if needed. Leave to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, pour over your shortbread base and return to the freezer.

7. In heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, add in your coconut oil and let it fully melt. Once melted, add in the cacao, maple syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Taste again if it needs any more maple syrup to sweeten, or a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture on top of your caramel - feel free to sprinkle with some extra sea salt if you like. Leave in the freezer until fully set.

8. Once fully set, with the edges of the baking paper, carefully remove form the pan and slice into 16 or 9 pieces. To store, keep in an air-tight container in the fridge (things may get a little messy if stored at room temperature but that's your call!).
Try not to eat it all at once!

Have you ever tried making a healthier millionaires shortbread? What's your favourite sugar alternative? Let me know if you give this recipe a go! I'd love to see your attempts so don't forget to tag me on Twitter and Instagram!

Shortbread base recipe inspired by 'Raw Snickers Slab' from Livia's Kitchen.
Salted caramel sauce recipe inspired by 'Healthy Caramel Recipe' from Wake The Wolves.
Chocolate topping recipe inspired by 'Raw Snickers Slab' from Livia's Kitchen.

NOTES:
Chocolate topping - if you don't have raw cacao powder, just use cocoa powder. Or, if you'd like, melt 200g of your favourite dark chocolate and pour on top of caramel instead. If, when it comes to slicing it up, it is a little difficult to cut just run a sharp knife under hot water to heat up the knife a little. 
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