My mom once told me that during her pregnancy, her cravings for ice cream were so intense that she ate it every night for months. As a kid, I would hurry through dinner, begrudgingly choking down mounds of peas at the promise of my post-meal treat. And on Halloween night, after trick-or-treating, I would separate my loot by candy type, tallying up the number of Butterfingers, Snickers and Reese’s Cups, making mental notes of the number of each. Then, I’d hide my stash in a hard-to-reach location so my candy-loving (and stealing) mother couldn’t raid my hard-earned treasure. (Except for the Dots, she was always welcome to those.) Needless to say, I’ve always had a sweet tooth.
*photography by katie wahlman
These days, the craving remains just as strong, but in the name of #adulting, I try to keep my consumption under control. I’ve recently started purchasing medjool dates for when I’m craving a sweet snack. They have a deep, caramel flavor that I absolutely love, and au naturel sweetness that I can feel good about.
Since Halloween has always been a time to celebrate my love for sweets, I decided that this year, instead of buying bags of sugar-laden, processed candy from the seasonal aisle, I’d try my hand at a healthier version of a childhood favorite, featuring my newly beloved dates.
These Pumpkin Date Caramel Cups are filled with pumpkin puree-spiked date caramel, laden with pie spices and a touch of almond butter for nutty consistency.
They’re smooth, spicy, just a touch chewy and blanketed in a cozy layer of dark chocolate.
I used 65% dark chocolate, but you can go as dark as you’d like here, the sweetness of the dates would add beautiful balance to an extra bitter variety.
Enjoy and Happy Halloween!
Check out more of Katie’s recipes in our series The Sweeter Side!
- 1/2 pound medjool dates
- 2 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon almond butter, smooth
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- dash of allspice
- dash of cloves
- 2 cups chocolate chips (semi- or bittersweet)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- pepitas and malton salt for sprinkling
- In a food processor, combine the medjool dates, pumpkin puree, almond butter, salt and spices. Pulse on high until a smooth caramel forms. You can add more pumpkin or almond butter to taste, but be careful not to add too much pumpkin as the caramel may become too watery. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate chips and coconut oil in 30-second intervals, stirring in between each, until melted and smooth.
- Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners. Pour a heaping teaspoon of chocolate into each liner, then use a small spoon to push the melted chocolate up the sides of the liners. This will ensure your chocolate hardens into a true "cup" and the caramel will not ooze out the sides. Place the cups in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to chill.
- Once chilled and slightly firm, fill each cup with a small spoonful of caramel, using the spoon to lightly press and flatten the caramel as much as possible to create an even layer. The caramel will be fairly thick and stubborn so do your best here, and remember, free-form cups are just as delicious.
- Reheat your melted chocolate if needed, and then top off each cup, covering the caramel completely. Sprinkle the top of each cup with pepitas or malton salt while the chocolate it still wet. Place finished cups in the refrigerator until firm.