Chocolate Caramel Coconut Bites

One of my all time favorite flavor combinations has to be chocolate and caramel. Add in a touch of coconut and then we're really talking.

Chocolate. Caramel. Coconut. Ingredients remind you of any particular cookie usually pushed for sale by energetic girls wearing green (and sometimes brown) vests? I won't name names, but I think you know what I'm talking about and I'm pretty sure you know those cookies are addicting.

A little throwback photo back :)

A little throwback photo back :)

While a cookie here and there won't totally derail your health goals, we all now it's hard to stop at just one of those cookies! Plus, it's no surprise the ingredients that are used aren't the best.

With simple, plant-based, whole ingredients, these Chocolate Caramel Coconut Bites make a great healthier alternative. They are vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar free but have all of the flavor you remember.

Sweet dates are used to make the caramel coating that surrounds a chocolate "cookie" center made with almonds, coconut and cacao. Topped with a chocolate drizzle similar to those famous cookies, everyone will be a fan of this version!

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL COCONUT BITES

Serves: 16

Time: 25 minutes plus 30 minutes chill time

Ingredients:

Date Caramel

2 1/2 cups pitted dates (this was equal to about 40 Deglet Noor Dates)*

4-6 tablespoons warm water

Pinch sea salt

Coconut Chocolate Cookie

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons plus 1 cup date caramel (see above)

2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut

Chocolate Drizzle

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 teaspoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons raw cacao powder

Pinch sea salt

Instructions:

In a food processor, add dates and pulse a few times until broken up into chunks. With the food processor going, stream in the warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time being careful to not add too much. The water is just to get it moving but should not thin out the mixture.

Process date mixture until smooth and creamy. Add in pinch of sea salt and pulse 1 or 2 times to combine. Remove mixture from food processor and set aside.

Add almonds to a clean food processor and pulse a few times to chop. Continue to process until crumbly and then add in the 1/2 cup coconut, 1/4 cup cacao and sea salt. Process until mixture is evenly chopped into fine pieces. With the food processor going, drop in the 3 tablespoons of date caramel one at a time making sure each is combined into the mixture before adding the next tablespoon.

Once all of the date caramel is added, check the mixture and see if it will hold a ball shape when pressed together. If not, add another of date caramel.

Using a tablespoon, spoon out mixture and shape into balls. Place each ball onto a lined baking tray and place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Place the 2 cups of shredded coconut in a small bowl with high sides.

Remove chocolate balls from the fridge. Place a small amount of the date caramel (about a teaspoon) in your palm and then roll a chocolate ball around until coated in the caramel - don’t worry about it being an even layer. This gets a bit messy - washing your hands every few minutes helps.

Once coated in the caramel, roll each ball in the bowl of shredded coconut until covered. Place back on the baking tray and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Make the chocolate drizzle by combining the coconut oil, maple syrup, cacao powder and salt in a small bowl. Remove bites from the fridge and drizzle with the chocolate sauce. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes before serving!

*If dates are dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes and drain before use.