Tahini Salted Caramel & Goji Berry Chocolate Layered Hearts

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Serves 24 (keep on hand in the freezer for an instant sweet treat)

On one hand, I view Valentines Day as a sickly sweet commercialized holiday encouraging us to fork out on mass for gimmicky socks and mugs with hearts emblazoned all over the place. On the other hand, something that makes us stop to appreciate our loved ones, when we might have otherwise just carried on with the hustle and bustle of our weeks, can’t be a bad thing. Of course, I appreciate my husband on a daily basis, but having an excuse to stop everything else just to focus on one another is welcome relief from working late, tidying the house, bingeing on Netflix or tending to the kids.

With this in mind, I made his very favourite dessert ever. It keeps in the freezer for months, although I would be very surprised if it ever lasted even half that long! This is THE ultimate indulgence — but as always, this dessert is jam-packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, so no need to scrimp on the nutrition just because it tastes so divine! It is raw goji-berry gooiness and creamy salted tahini caramel, sandwiched between a sweet nut base and a cacao topping.

One portion provides 221 calories, 4g of plant-based protein, 2g of fibre and almost a third of my daily Vitamin A requirements, which is pretty darn high in for a dessert. I am a strong believer that just because something is a treat, it doesn’t mean it can’t actually be good for you too.

But as with all sweet ‘treats’, this should still be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Just because something is vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free, it doesn’t mean that it should be eaten all day errr-day! It still has quite a high sugar and fat contents, even if they are coming from great sources, such as organic dates and nuts.

INGREDIENTS

For the Base

· 150g nuts (blanched almonds, brazil nuts and cashews work very well here)
· 120g pitted Medjool dates
· 1.5 tbsp hazelnut butter
· 1 tsp vanilla extract
· ¼ tsp Himalayan Salt

For the Goji Berry Middle

· 150g Dried Goji Berries

For the Salted Tahini Caramel Middle

· 110g Light Tahini
· 130g Maple Syrup
· 70g Melted Coconut Oil
· ¼ tsp Himalayan Salt

For the Topping

· 40g Raw Cacao Powder (I used “That Protein” Brown Rice & Cacao Protein Powder to up the protein)
· 80g Melted Coconut Oil
· 7 tbsp Maple Syrup
· Pinch of Salt

METHOD

Note — I used individual silicone heart cupcake moulds for mine, because, you know, Valentines Day and all that; but it is quite time consuming to have to do four different layers in each one, so I would suggest you use a 20cm square tin and then cut into cubes. Much quicker and less hassle, but just not quite so pretty!

· Add all of the ingredients for the base into a high speed blender and blitz until the consistency is a fine crumb, yet sticks together when you press it between your fingers.
· Put this mixture into the tin and press down firmly to an even thickness.
· Put in the freezer while you make the filling.
· Soak the dried goji berries in some warm water for 5 minutes to soften.
· Drain the water, then whizz up the goji berries in the blender.
· With a spatula, smooth the goji berry paste over the frozen base and stick back in the freezer.
· Combine all of the ingredients for the salted caramel filling and mix well.
· Pour the caramel over the frozen goji berry layer and pop it back into the freezer for 20 minutes.
· Combine all of the ingredients for the topping and mix well.
· Pour the chocolate layer over the filling and return to the freezer to set for a couple of hours.
· Best enjoyed straight from the freezer.

Nutritional Information

Calories — 221
Carbohydrates — 18g
Fat — 15g
Protein — 4g
Fibre — 2g
Vitamin A — 29%
Vitamin C — 5%
Calcium — 7%
Iron — 8%

SweetsEMILY WRIGHT