Nadia Lim is a bit of a hero when it comes to healthy eating in New Zealand. Her winning reign on Masterchef saw her playing with intense flavours in nutritious combinations. Her first cookbook, Nadia’s Kitchen, encouraged us to ‘eat your colours’ and get creative in the kitchen. Her second book, Good Food Cook Book, is a personal favourite of mine – the curries are out-of-this-world tasty, and the salads are the perfect dishes to whip up for a Sunday lunch.
Cookbook number three is the plentiful Fresh Start Cookbook – filled with suggestions on how to improve your diet as well as some stunning recipes from rice paper rolls to new and interesting breakfast ideas. My personal favourite recipe, however, is the one for her Date Cashew and Caramel Chocolate Slice. It is absolutely divine – and, believe it or not, paleo!
There’s so many clever ways to bake in an healthy way – from using black beans in brownies to coconut cream in cheesecakes – we are so lucky at the moment to have so many amazing chefs producing such incredible recipes that are kind to our insides but still taste amazing. This Paleo Date Cashew & Chocolate Slice is the absolute pinnacle of this movement to me. I have made it so many times and I still can’t believe that what I’m eating isn’t sugary, buttery caramel.
It’s definitely not, though. The mixture of dates, cashews, coconut oil and maple syrup creates a deliciously creamy ‘caramel’ filling without any unnatural sweeteners.
Pay special attention to the chocolate you add to the topping of this – it should be 70% or higher, so Cadbury’s Old Gold should do the trick!
As with everything, make sure you choose high-quality ingredients – they really do make all the difference. For this slice, I tried a new coconut oil on the market from Tanna Farms. Naturally organic and additive free, it comes from Vanuatu and tastes incredibly creamy and clean. I’m hooked!
And the other amazing thing about this recipe? You can make it in my all-time favourite kitchen appliance – the Nutribullet! I swear this machine is the answer to all my prayers – it makes blending things like this so quick and easy and the minimal cleaning is music to my ears!
So, let’s get into the recipe right? Here’s Nadia Lim’s Paleo Date Cashew & Chocolate Slice for your next “sweet” craving!
- ¾ cup ground almonds
- ¾ cup coconut thread
- 1 tablespoon cacao
- 6 pitted medjool dates
- ½ cup raw almonds
- one pinch salt
- 6-8 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- Date and cashew caramel filling
- 400g dried pitted dates
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 2 cups cashew nuts, softened (soak overnight)
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup - check the label!
- ½ cup coconut oil melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Chocolate and walnut topping
- 150-200g good quality dark chocolate
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil (e.g. walnut, canola, soy)
- 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut thread (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180degC. Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of a square baking tin (20cm x 20cm) with baking paper.
- Place ground almonds, coconut thread, cocoa powder, medjool dates, almonds and salt in a food processor and blitz until a fine, crumbly texture.
- Drizzle in melted coconut oil/butter and pulse until well combined and the mixture holds together when you pinch it between your fingers.
- Press mixture into the prepared baking tin, pressing down firmly with the back of a spoon or spatula. Bake for 10-15 minutes until light golden. Set aside in the fridge to cool while you make the caramel.
- To make the caramel, place dates and water in a medium-size pot and boil, stirring frequently, until the dates are very soft and mushed up, and all the water has evaporated. Place dates in the food processor along with the softened cashew nuts, maple syrup, coconut oil/butter and vanilla. Blitz until nice and smooth – this will take at least a few minutes. scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times to make sure everything has been blended.
- Spread caramel all over the base in the baking tin. Set aside in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours or the freezer for at least 2 hours, or until the filling is firm.
- Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a glass bowl set above a small pot of simmering water. Mix in oil if using. Pour melted chocolate all over the filling and spread it over evenly. Return to the fridge for about 20 minutes, or until set. If it still seems a bit soft, return to the fridge/freezer for a bit longer.
- Cut into about 25 pieces (a long, sharp serrated knife dipped in hot water will help a lot! I also find it easier to flip the whole caramel slice upside-down and cut through the base down). The slice will keep for up to a week in the fridge.