HOW TO: Make decadent vegan salted date caramel & almond butter quinoa cups

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1. Gather the ingredients.

  • 4-5 Tbsp quinoa
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 6 dates, pitted (Soak in warm water for about 20 minutes if very hard and dry, then drain. If the dates are plump and juicy, skip this step.)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

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2. Wash and toast the quinoa.

Quinoa has a bitter outer coating that is easily removed by rinsing the grains. Put quinoa and some water to cover in a small pot or container and swirl the quinoa around. Drain the quinoa as much as possible. To do this without losing too many grains, I use a pot with a tight lid and turn it almost upside down so that the water drains and the quinoa stays inside. Place cleaned quinoa in a small saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Let the quinoa grains cook until they are dry, start to pop, and darken in color slightly, about 6 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, line muffin/cupcake pans with liners. Remove the quinoa from the heat and let cool.

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3. Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together.

Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil together until you have a shiny, smooth mixture.

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4. Coat the bottom of the cups.

Carefully remove the bowl from the heat and use 1 tsp of the chocolate yumminess to coat the bottom of each mini cupcake liner. If making the large cups, use about 1/2-3/4 Tbsp. You don’t want a super thick layer of chocolate, but you want to completely cover the liner’s bottom. You also should have quite a bit of the chocolate left for the top layer. In the event that you don’t, simply melt some more chocolate chips with a little coconut oil.

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5. Sprinkle on the quinoa then freeze.

Sprinkle on a single layer of quinoa to the chocolate and then place the cups in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes to harden. If you have quinoa skeptics in your house, you can sprinkle on less or leave the layer out, but it adds some delicious, crunchy texture.

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6. Make the salted date caramel.

In a food processor (preferably small) or a blender, blend the pitted dates and the water. Process until a sticky paste forms, and there are no large date chunks. Next, add the almond butter and the salt and process until creamy. Taste and then add a few more pinches of salt if desired. (Note: If you want to double this part of the recipe, we wouldn’t discourage it. You could use the salted date caramel to top breads or toast, as a layer in a pie, or even as an ice cream topping.)

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7. Add the salted date caramel layer to the chocolate cups.

Take the cupcake/muffin tins out of the freezer. Spoon about 1/2 tsp of the salted date caramel (or about 1/2 Tbsp if making the large cups) over the now-hardened chocolate layer. Use clean fingers or a spoon to press the caramel into an even layer.

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8. Cover with more chocolate.

Add more melted chocolate to cover the cups (start with 1 tsp for mini cups and 1/2 Tbsp for the regular size, adding more if needed to cover). Sprinkle more quinoa on top for decoration and extra crunch. Return to the freezer for at least 15-20 minutes to harden again.

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9. Serve and enjoy!

Once the cups have hardened, serve and enjoy! Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator for up to a week (although we doubt anyone can resist these cups for that long).

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