Low-sugar caramel slice

Arabella's caramel slice: You can enjoy healthier options when it comes to snack time.
Arabella's caramel slice: You can enjoy healthier options when it comes to snack time. Photo: Salona Chithiray
Dietary
Dairy-free

In its most refined form, white sugar contains no nutrients and works purely as a source of empty calories. Seeking a healthy alternative to sugar is challenging. The term, "sugar-free" is largely a misnomer, as sugar or sucrose, a simple carbohydrate made from two molecules - glucose and fructose - is found in most plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy foods. For this slice I've used a combination of stevia, mesquite powder and maple syrup for a treat with at least some nutritional benefits.

Ingredients

For base

170g (1 cup) almonds

70g prunes

30g (1 1⁄2) tablespoons coconut oil)

For filling

1 cup (200g) smooth peanut butter

1 teaspoon (10g) mesquite powder*

1 tablespoon tahini

3 tablespoons maple syrup or rice syrup

1/12 teaspoon dried stevia leaf extract**

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla essence

For top

2 heaped tablespoon cacao butter 

1⁄2 cup (84g) coconut oil

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon maple syrup or rice syrup

1 teaspoon maca powder

1/12 teaspoon dried stevia leaf extract

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla essence

* Whole food powders: Mesquite powder is made from freeze-dried whole fruits and ground root vegetables and is favoured for its sweet taste and distinctive earthy flavour. It is relatively low in sugar (44 per cent) and is also a good source of minerals and has a low GI.

** Stevia is a herbal sweetener native to South America. It  tastes 300 times sweeter than sugar and has zero kilojoules with nil effect on blood sugar levels. The catch with stevia is its slightly bitter aftertaste. In home cooking, you can mix it with another sweetener (such as a whole food powder, or maple syrup) to mask the aftertaste. Stevia can be bought as liquid drops or a refined white powder. There is also a greenish brown-coloured extract of the dried leaf available at some health food stores, considered the least-processed product. It is also sold in its natural form in some nurseries.

 

Method

To make the base, puree together the ingredients until fine crumbs form. Pack tightly into the bottom of a greased biscuit tin. Use your fingers to press mixture flat. Refrigerate until firm.

Prepare the filling by mixing together the ingredients in a food processor. Spread evenly across the base using a spatula. Refrigerate until firm.

Prepare the chocolate by gently melting the cacao butter in a bain marie. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients for the chocolate and whisk well. Add the cacao butter and continue to whisk. Spread evenly across the base using a spatula. Refrigerate until firm.

To serve, cut slices with warm knife and serve cold (it can melt at warm temperatures).

Nutritional information panel for this recipe