Creamy chocolate and date chia pudding and an easy coconut caramel sauce make the most lusciously healthy Vegan Salted Caramel & Chocolate Swirl Popsicles free of dairy and refined sugar. Adapted from Glow Pops by Liz Moody.
I just got back from teaching a food styling and photography workshop in Sebastopol with Sarah, Gerry, Carla, and 12 fun and talented attendees (more on that soon!) I wish we’d had batches upon batches of these popsicles because it was HOT. Scratch that. I wish Liz had been there churning out all of the delicious popsicles from her beautiful new book Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best. We would have been set for every meal of the day.
While these Vegan Salted Caramel & Chocolate Swirl Popsicles are to die for, I’m especially excited to share Liz’s genius vegan caramel sauce recipe with you today. It has just 2 main ingredients – coconut milk and coconut sugar – plus a little vanilla, salt, and coconut oil. Unlike normally tricky caramel sauce, this comes together more like a cajeta or dulce de leche. Just stick the coconut milk and sugar in a pot and let it cook down, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces into a thick caramel. The coconut sugar gives it a deep golden hue and infuses it with tropical coffee notes. I want to eat it on everything.
I doubled the recipe because I knew I’d want extra to drizzle all over my
body popsicles, and since I like my food to essentially be a salt lick (especially when it’s as hot as it was in Sebastopol last week), I sprinkled the pops with a bit of flaky salt for crunch. The chocolate popsicles are even easier; just whiz some soaked dates, cacao powder, chia seed, and nut milk (I made a mock cashew milk using cashew butter and water since that’s what I had and it worked great). You’ll be hard pressed not to eat the pudding straight from the blender, but if you manage to spoon it into some popsicle molds layered with silky caramel sauce, these pops will be your reward. Did I mention how incredibly nourishing these pops are? Cashew butter and coconut are loaded with healthy fats, dates and chia are full of fiber and nutrients, and cacao powder gives a dose of antioxidants. These pops satisfy on so many different levels. And they’re as appropriate for dessert as they are for breakfast or a midday treat.
I can’t wait to try more recipes from Liz’s book. The chapters are broken into main ingredient or quality: fruity, creamy, chocolate, green, and there are even savory pops made with vegetables. The photos are simply stunning and the recipes are the perfect blend of fast and innovative. Each pop is made with fresh, whole ingredients and minimally sweetened with unrefined sweeteners. I’ve got a batch of Cucumber Mint Mojito pops waiting in the freezer for the next heatwave. And next on my list are:
- Chocolate Chia Lavender
- Chamomile Cantaloupe Mint
- Coconut Chai
- Strawberry Cardamom Rose Lassi
- Turmeric Golden Milk
…right after I have another one of these Vegan Salted Caramel & Chocolate Swirl Popsicles.
I hope you’re keeping cool in the Northern Hemisphere and enjoying the bounty that summer has to offer. And hey: it’s popsicle week! Check out the abundance of gorgeous popsicles across the blogosphere right here.
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- 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk (such as Thai Kitchen)
- ½ cup (75 g) coconut sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) coconut oil
- flaky salt, for sprinkling
- 6 large or 8 smaller medjool dates, pitted, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained, water reserved
- Date soaking water from above, plus more to make 1½ cups (355 ml)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) cashew butter (such as Artisana Raw Cashew Butter)
- 5 tablespoons (35 g) raw cacao powder or natural cocoa powder
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- ¼ cup (40 g) chia seeds (I used white seeds)
- In a medium-small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, coconut sugar, and vanilla pod and scrapings. Bring just to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook, simmering gently and stirring frequently with a flexible heat-proof spatula, for 30 minutes. The caramel should be thick and saucy like warm caramel or butterscotch sauce. Stir in the fine salt and coconut oil. Transfer to a heat-proof jar and chill at least 1 hour. If the sauce gets too cold, warm it to a pourable consistency before proceeding.
- In the bowl of a sturdy blender, combine the soaked dates, water, cashew butter, cacao powder, fine salt, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Stir in the chia seeds and let sit 30 minutes to thicken the seeds, then puree again on medium-high until very smooth. Add a splash more water if the mixture has trouble blending.
- Starting with the chocolate mixture, layer all of the chocolate and half of the caramel into 6 or 8 (3-ounce) popsicle molds in 3 or 4 layers, alternating a big spoonful of chocolate with a small spoonful of caramel. Chill the popsicles for 1 hour, then add popsicle sticks and freeze until solid, at least 12 hours. When ready to serve, remove the popsicles from their molds and drizzle with caramel (warmed to a pourable consistency) and a few small pinches of flaky salt and serve immediately.