Chocolate Covered Chestnut Caramels
My Grandma used to give us grand kids boxes of chocolate on Holidays. The assorted ones that had at least 15 different chocolates, and you did not know what they were. I would always try to guess. I loved the ones that were all chocolate, caramel, or raspberry cream. But then sometimes I would bite into one that I totally did not like, maybe a cherry cordial or orange cream (sorry if those are your favorites). You could usually tell the caramels because they were square. I really didn't care if they were dark chocolate or milk chocolate, the caramels were my favorite! I was thinking about those boxes of chocolates recently and I thought to myself, why not make some chocolate coated caramels?! I could have a whole batch of my favorite! I thought I could give them a festive twist though, and I added chestnuts to them. I love chestnuts this time of the year, they are a delicious snack, that does not get enough attention because I don't think people know how to cook them. You can usually buy them in the produce section at the store this time of the year. I have included instructions for making them at the bottom of this post. Anyways, I think they have kind of a nutty buttered popcorn flavor. They have a different texture from other nuts that is worth trying out. You might just get hooked like I am!
So back to those caramels, I actually had some cooked chestnuts on hand, so I blended them up with some gooey dates to make a delicious caramel. Date caramel is something that is completely essential if you are a vegan who is trying to eat unprocessed foods. I mean, technically if you are craving caramel you could just eat a date because they are nature's caramel, but if I did that here, I could not get that smooth texture and combine them with the delicious chestnuts. I added some coconut oil to the caramel to help it firm up enough to hold the square caramel shape and it was so silky smooth and luscious! I could have just eaten it with a spoon, but instead I chilled it and cut it into caramels.
I melted my favorite dark chocolate for coating these, but you can use your favorite brand. If you are looking for a good quality vegan dark chocolate with good ingredients and no refined sugars, I recommend Lily's chocolate chips, Luv dark chocolate chunks, or Zimt baking chocolate. Once the caramels were all dipped and set up I was so excited to try one! They were super delicious! Rich buttery creamy sweet gooey caramel with a thin layer of dark chocolate! So heavenly! I would take these over those ones in the boxes of candy I had as a kid any day. If you are a big caramel fan, or looking for a recipe to include some chestnuts in, give these a try!
Chocolate Covered Chestnut Caramels
- 2 cups soft pitted medjool dates (soak them in water 30 minutes until soft if not soft, and drain well before using in recipe)
- 1 cup roasted chestnuts, finely chopped*
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (at room temperature)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups chopped vegan dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
- To make the caramel filling, combine the dates, chestnuts, water, coconut oil, vanilla, and sea salt in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Spread out onto a parchment lined tray in a square about an inch thick. Set in the freezer for a few hours until completely firm. Cut into 16 squares, separate them, then place back into the freezer until they are completely hard (if they have warmed up at all).
- Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler until smooth.
- Dip each caramel into the chocolate, coating it completely and allowing the excess to drain off (I like to set mine on a fork to do so), and place back onto the tray. When they are all done, put them back into the freezer to harden the chocolate if it isn't set yet.
- Store caramels in the refrigerator for up to a month in an airtight container with a lid.
*For Roasted Chestnuts:
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees, and cut an X in the top of each chestnut with a knife. Spread them out on the sheet pan, and place them in the oven. Bake them until they start to smell fragrant and the insides are looking toasted, about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. Remove them from the oven, and let cool until you can handle them. Then, remove the shell by pressing down on them (it usually cracks in half if they have roasted long enough).