Valentine's Day Rose Cardamom Caramel Hearts

Valentine's Day is coming up in just a few days, and we can hardly believe it.  It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating the new year.  Whether you are celebrating Valentine's Day or not, it never hurts to have a festive, homemade treat!  We wanted to share something delicious, fun, and healthy.  These caramel hearts are vegan, gluten & refined sugar free, and lightly flavored with cardamom and rose petals.  Oh, and they're completely covered in dark chocolate, making them the perfect Valentine's Day treat!

These can be very easy to make, especially if you use your favorite dark chocolate chips, instead of making your own raw chocolate.  Both options will turn out great, and the chips are a time saver if you have a busy week.  You can also make these w/o the rose and/or cardamom if you like.  They will be vanilla bean caramels, and still very tasty.  We also included a tip at the bottom for what to do with the leftover caramel and chocolate.  It's really good, so be sure to give it a try.  We don't want any homemade rose cardamom caramel going to waste!

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Ingredients

- 18 soft pitted Medjool dates (make sure they are not super dry)
- 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried rose petals (Get these on Amazon or any local herb shop. Great with tea, yogurt, ice cream, chocolate...etc.)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder OR 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
- cream from one can of full fat unsweetened coconut milk (Be sure to put the can of coconut milk in fridge for a few hours before use.  Do not shake or mix it.)
- 1 batch raw chocolate OR 1 bag of your favorite chocolate chips (Lily's makes vegan Stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips.)

*You will also want a silicon candy mold if you want them to be shaped nicely. Those come in lots of shapes and are fairly inexpensive on Amazon or at kitchen supply stores.  If you don't have one, you can still place the caramels on parchment paper and then cover with melted chocolate. They won't be as pretty, but they will taste just as good!

Instructions

- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler situation.  If you don't have a double boiler (I don't), take a small frying pan and put about a half inch of water in.  Put on low/medium heat.  Pour raw chocolate ingredients (below) or chocolate chips into a heat-safe glass Pyrex bowl.  Place that bowl in the frying pan of shallow water.  Do not let any of the water get into the chocolate, or it will ruin.  So, make sure the water doesn't begin to boil and splash into the chocolate.  Stir occasionally, until chocolate is fully melted.
- Spoon a small amount of chocolate into each chocolate mold and place mold tray in the freezer so the chocolate hardens.
- All other ingredients are for the caramel.  Place the pitted soft Medjool dates, sea salt, coconut oil, vanilla bean, rose petals, cardamom, and coconut milk in a high powered blender or food processor.  For the coconut milk, the can should be in the fridge, already chilled when you use it.  Spoon off the cream at the top of the can.  That is the part you will use.  Do not mix the can up or use the water beneath the cream.
- Blend or mix until a creamy caramel consistency is achieved.  The mixture will be pretty thick and sticky at first due to the dates.  You will likely have to stop and scrape the sides down a few times.  A tamper will help if you are using a high powered blender, like the Vitamix. 
- Once the chocolate in the molds has hardened, add a layer of the caramel mixture to the molds.  Then, cover completely with melted chocolate.  Place in freezer until the chocolate sets and hardens.  This should only be about half an hour.
- Pop chocolates out of the silicon mold, and enjoy!  It is fun to put them in cute paper cups in a box and give as a Valentine's present.  Or serve them on a cute plate with some champagne!  Store them in an air tight container in the fridge.

Quick Bonus Recipe for DIY Raw Chocolate

This is my favorite raw chocolate recipe.  I make a batch about once a month and add in whatever sounds good (nuts, seeds, coconut...etc.)  I include a lot of adaptogens, all of which are optional.  You can make this chocolate without buying all the optional ingredients.  But if you have them on hand, they are great additions for flavor and nutrient content!

- 1/2 cup raw cacao butter
- 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon coconut butter
- pinch pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla bean powder
- 1 teaspoon lucuma powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon mesquite (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon maca powder (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler.  Stir occasionally until chocolate is fully combined and melted.  Use for this recipe, or to make your own chocolate bars.  The possibilities are endless.  Keep stored in the refrigerator.  It will soften if it is at room temperature for very long.

Caramel Bounty Bars! - What to do with the Leftover Chocolate & Caramel

These are amazing!  Almost better than the original recipe, haha.  Line a rectangular pan with parchment paper.  Pour any extra melted chocolate into the pan and place in freezer to harden.  Then, remove from freezer and spread remaining caramel over the top of the chocolate.  Then, sprinkle the top with coconut, nuts, cacao nibs, seeds, dried fruit...whatever you like and have laying around.  Use a spoon to push the toppings into the caramel a bit.  Place back in freezer to set.  Cut into squares.  Store the squares in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.  I do the freezer in a parchment paper lined glass Pyrex dish.  They caramel stays a bit firmer in the freezer, which I prefer.

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Now that we have inundated you with chocolate treat ideas, we hope you are inspired to make them.  Please let us know if you try them out.  We'd love to hear what you think.  Whether you are celebrating Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day, or nothing at all...you deserve a nice indulgence once in a while.  Happy Valentine's Day from CocoGlow!


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