Almost raw crunchy caramel slice

Almost raw crunchy caramel slice

I’ve said it before: I’m not a big fan of resolving things in the new year (just because it’s the new year). However, toward the end of December, I made a long list of 2016 goals with one thing in mind: no goal is too small or insignificant. Sending out wedding thank you cards is #2 on that list. I know you get an entire year but, honestly? I’m embarrassed about the fact that they’ve been sitting (half written) in our dresser for the past three months. #3 is to finally start editing the four-month old (YIKES) photos from our honeymoon and throw together some travel pieces to be shared while we’re working on #4.. which is to finish the damn kitchen. I’ve been wanting to gut it since we moved in, in May 2014, but I’ve been putting it off because I’m terrible at making decisions when there are 13284 of them to be made. Like, SMEG or no SMEG? Cream SMEG? Pastel green SMEG? Soapstone countertops or quartz countertops? OR BUTCHER BLOCK COUNTERTOPS? Subway tile backsplash or square tile backsplash? (Thom’s team subway, I’m team square.) White cabinets or gray cabinets? And don’t even get me started on the kitchen sink. Or the faucet. Or the fact that we’re probably going to find things behind the lath and plaster that I’d rather not know exist.

Anyway. Because you’re probably wondering: #1 on that list is to be nicer to my body. Last year I was pretty awful to it. I repeatedly pushed myself beyond my limits because I’m, apparently, one of those sick people who uses exercise as a means of torture. And one day I finally woke up and was like WHY THE FUCK AM I TORTURING MY BODY? So I made a promise to myself (shortly after we got back from India) that I’d take it easy; I’d stop ignoring the signals (ahem, aches and pains) and start giving my body as much recovery time as it needed – whether that was a day or three. Or an entire week. I quit long distance running, cold turkey. And I’m actually thrilled to say I can’t remember the last time I woke up at 4AM and went on a 12 miler through the city. Even better? My thighs didn’t grow three sizes when I suddenly stopped putting in 50+ miles a week. IMAGINE THAT.

Funny enough, around the same time I decided to take a more mellow approach to my workout routine, I also started eating the way a 4 year old would eat if his parents weren’t around to force-feed him the good stuff. I’d skip lunch. Snack on an assortment of salty things (ANY salty thing) I could find in the cupboards. Eat a bag of frozen potato wedges for dinner (one time, five nights in a row). And then I’d end my day consuming more chocolate than any person should consume in one sitting.

Which is kind of disgusting, and brings me to this caramel slice.

In the new year, I promised myself I’d eat better. That – no matter what – I’d try my hardest to eat with intention instead of eating to fill a void. So far it’s going well, but I’m not gonna lie: I’m only one week in and the urge to walk down the street to get a plate of greasy French fries (because it’s too dangerous to keep a bag of them in the freezer) is getting harder and harder to resist. The good thing is I’ve planned for missteps. So when the time comes and I succumb to the greasy diner fry dinner? My course of action will be to wake up the next day, shake it off, and start over new. Because, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we all need to be a little better about cutting ourselves some slack. And recognize that our ability to resolve things isn’t diminished because we wanted some goddamn french fries. Or, you know, because we chose to binge watch Making a Murderer until 1AM and sleep in instead of wake up early to go to the gym.

So this slice. It was originally going to be super decadent and not even remotely healthy (it involved a coconut oil version of my chocolate dipped vanilla bean shortbread) (aaaaaand maple-tahini caramel), but when I realized I’d be trying to eat a bit better in the new year (along with every other person in the world), I figured it’d serve us all if the first recipe of 2016 was comprised of things we can feel good about eating. Like oats! And almonds! And natural sweeteners! Which, coincidentally, are also things you can get away with eating for breakfast (if you know what I mean).

Happy 2016, you guys. I have no idea what’s in store for OLC but I can guarantee you one thing: it’s gonna be delicious. And perhaps a little less vulgar because #14 on my list of 2016 goals is to attempt to remove the word fuck from my vocabulary. Though, admittedly, that’s probably not going to happen.

Almost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel sliceAlmost raw crunchy caramel slice

Notes: Feel free to use your favorite nut/seed in place of the almonds; pecans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, etc. If your dates are pre-pitted, you’ll need about 210g of ’em. Although I’ve only tested medjool dates, I suspect any other date variety will work in this recipe (though make sure you’re measuring them by weight). I prefer to use the lower coconut oil measurement when making the crust, but if you want a dough that’s a bit on the soft side, throw in that third tablespoon.. but I’d wait until after you add the maple syrup, just to see where the consistency stands. If you want to make the slice extra crunchy, cover the bottom of the base with raw almonds (chopped or whole) before layering with the caramel cream.


Crunchy almond base
1/2 cup (46g) thick rolled oats
1 cup (148g) raw almonds, divided
Pinch of fine sea salt
2-3 tablespoons (22-33g) unrefined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
2 tablespoons (32g) pure maple syrup

Raw caramel cream
3/4 cup (102g) raw cashew pieces, soaked 4+ hours
12-14 (228g) medjool dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
1/2 cup (112g) raw almond milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons (32g) pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (44g) unrefined coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Chocolate drizzle
1/3 cup (25g) cacao powder
2 tablespoons (22g) unrefined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
1  tablespoon (16g) pure maple syrup
Pinch of fine sea salt

Cacao nibs, roughly crushed
Raw almonds (whole, chopped, sliced, slivered, etc.)
Pinch of sea salt flakes

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and top with a 6″ cake ring. Line with a strip of acetate; set aside. If you don’t have a cake ring (or acetate strips), use a spring form pan lined with parchment paper. Either will work, though the former produces a cleaner looking slice.

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the rolled oats into a fine flour. Add the almonds and sea salt and pulse until the almonds are roughly chopped. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the coconut oil – followed by the maple syrup – and blend just until the mixture turns into large crumbles. Firmly press the mixture into the prepared cake ring then set aside while preparing the other components. If necessary, the crust will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days and in the freezer for up to four weeks (wrapped in three layers of plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn).

In a high powered blender, such as a Vitamix, blend the cashews (drained), dates (drained), almond milk, and maple syrup on high speed until smooth and creamy; about 1-2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the coconut oil, followed by the sea salt, then increase the speed to high and blend for 30-45 seconds. Once you’re finished blending, the caramel cream will likely be full of air bubbles, so pulse the mixture 30-40 times to ensure most of those get removed. Pour the cream over the base layer, tap the pan on the counter a few times, decorate with finely chopped almonds (if desired), then pop the pan in the freezer for at least 8 hours, to set.

Once the slice has set and you’re ready to cut it, prepare the chocolate drizzle by adding the cacao powder to a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the coconut oil, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is smooth, then stir in the maple syrup and sea salt. You can pour the chocolate topping over the caramel layer and put it in the freezer to harden, or you can transfer it to an icing bottle (or plastic bag with the corned snipped) and drizzle it over each slice, like I did. Top with cacao nibs, almonds, and flaky salt, if desired. Tart will keep frozen for up to one month (though I doubt it will last that long). Cut immediately upon removing from freezer, then let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 10-12 slices

For a caffeine kick – Use 1 tablespoon of dark roast coffee beans in the crust and 1/2 teaspoon of instant espresso powder in the chocolate drizzle.
To incorporate peanuts – Replace the almonds with peanuts and the cashews with 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter (you may also need to use a touch more almond milk).

Almost raw crunchy caramel slice


  • Reply Katrina 7 January 2016 at 7:32 AM

    Looks like you’ve got some solid goals for this year girl! I don’t do resolutions either (or make lists for the year) BUT, reading this made me think that being better to your/my body is definitely something that needs doing. Like, this morning I went for a 7 mile run in the freezing cold and then came home with fingers so frozen and stiff that I could barely unlock my door. What in the good fuck is the matter with me? Soooo I will try to follow in your lovely footsteps…eat better (and that includes almost raw caramel slices!!!) and don’t exersize when it’s painful. xoxo

    Oh, and yeah, get those honeymoon photos finished!!!! Your travel posts are so fun read.

  • Reply Hope 7 January 2016 at 8:04 AM

    I have been looking forward to this recipe since the first day you posted a glimpse on Instagram! It looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it! Can’t wait to see what else is in store this year (especially if it involves honeymoon photos and a kitchen reno!)!

  • Reply Meghan 7 January 2016 at 8:12 AM

    I just finished my kitchen with white quartz countertops and white cabinets. I love it (so far…it’s been a month, check back in a year). I even cooked spaghetti sauce and didn’t get tomato everywhere. It’s such a hard decision, but once it’s done, it’s such a relief!!! Good luck!!

  • Reply Rachel 7 January 2016 at 8:20 AM

    Can’t wait to make and eat this! But don’t sweat too much about #14, because my husband tells me I swear like a sailor and I’m comforted by finding people like you who speak just like me, and if YOU remove fuck then I’ll be left to wash my mouth out with soap all on my own (boo).
    Happy new year! Looking forward to what you get up to in 2016!!

  • Reply Rachel 7 January 2016 at 8:22 AM

    (oh, and I’m all for the oaty crust, but please do post a coconut oil version of your vanilla shortbread, just for fun? Pretty please?)

  • Reply Elizabeth 7 January 2016 at 8:26 AM

    I like your list. I like every color Smeg, soapstone counters, butcher block counters, and every kind of tile. And I really, really like this awesome slice of nutty, caramel goodness. Here’s to taking better care of ourselves, and saying fuck only when really necessary. Cheers, Ashlae!

  • Reply Clem @ The Vegan Cookie Fairy 7 January 2016 at 8:30 AM

    OMG THIS CAKE <3 I honestly don't know how you make your food look so pretty every time. It's almost… geometrical? Does that make sense? Every slice is just so even, so neat.

    I once made a resolution to swear less (I'm a real potty-mouth). It only made me swear more. Lesson learned: SWEAR WITH WILD, GAY ABANDON.

  • Reply Lan | MoreStomach 7 January 2016 at 8:42 AM

    we put in our first payment to get our kitchen renovated on xmas eve. shit gets real in 2 weeks (and counting!). i could cry, in terror or happiness, i don’t know. all i know is, we’ve only changed our minds ONCE so far but i predict there will be a few more back/forths.

    here’s to 2016, going at with intention, with or without the F word.

  • Reply Kimiko 7 January 2016 at 8:59 AM

    This looks so delicious – perhaps I will try it for my birthday in a few weeks! It’s definitely going on my To-Make list!

  • Reply genevieve @ gratitude & greens 7 January 2016 at 9:06 AM

    I honestly haven’t sat down to even think about what 2016 is going to be like. All I want is to work hard but also know how to have a good time. I’m going to have to hop onto team square tile with you- those walls are gorgeous! These slices look incredible and I want one for breakfast right now… happy 2016!

  • Reply Libby 7 January 2016 at 9:23 AM

    I, too, have recently had this realization that “treat yourself” by feeding yourself garbage is in NO WAY treating yourself!!
    This looks like a perfect example of what a “treat yourself” should look like!

  • Reply dixya | food, pleasure, and health 7 January 2016 at 9:47 AM

    im so with Genevieve – i didnt really set any goals for 2016..i heard this term “healthy-ish” and kinda like it so my goal is to be healthy-ish in every aspect of my life.. and say never to fries for obvious reasons. on working out, since last year or two, i have taken things drastically slow which i can notice because of the way my clothes fit but im much happier that way. so i will continue being gentle to myself and live a healthyish lifestyle in 2016. This caramel slice looks awesome, only if i could grab a slice from my screen..happy 2016 to you and Thom.

  • Reply Willow | Will Cook For Friends 7 January 2016 at 9:55 AM

    This cake is so freaking gorgeous, I can’t even handle it. Not to mention it sounds like the single most delicious health-ish dessert breakfast thing I have ever seen, which is dangerous, because if I make it I am bound to eat way too much of it.

    Also, I love your goals. I’m in the same boat about resolutions. I’m all about little goals, and thoughtful things I can aim for in the new year. Here’s to a successful 2016 (and a new kitchen for you)!

  • Reply Rebecca 7 January 2016 at 10:12 AM

    Sounds like 2016 will be an exciting year! I can’t wait to see what’s to come!

  • Reply Cady 7 January 2016 at 10:43 AM

    “I’m, apparently, one of those sick people who uses exercise as a means of torture”

    Damn, we’re kindred spirits. I’m trying to listen to those signals, too, but hell if I haven’t tuned them out for so long I can hardly hear them anymore. But you give me inspiration, lady. Keep on keeping on!

    All my love.

    • Reply Christine 7 January 2016 at 11:50 AM


      I smiled at the resonance of your comment. Gosh, that’s so well put: “Hell if I haven’t tuned [the signals] out for so long that I can hardly hear them anymore.” So have I! Here’s to being more perceptive in 2016.

      • Reply Cady 9 January 2016 at 7:00 PM


        Hear, hear lady!

        • Reply Samantha 10 January 2016 at 9:13 AM

          Yes, agree! I just turned 40 last year, and I trained like a maniac leading up to it, weights and cardio 5 days a week for two months. My body is still mad at me. Searching for something a bit kinder (and less time consuming), I found beach I swear I’m not paid by the company and this is not a commercial. Anyway, they have all of these videos online – a little 80s, but not as much so as they could be, and they’re all 30 minutes. The philosophy is “move your body, intentionally, 30 minutes a day.” I did those for awhile, and it really re calibrated the way I think about exercise. It doesn’t have to be these crazy death marches! Now I walk my ass off and do sculpt classes. More consistency, less crazy. Happy 2016!

  • Reply Chrissy 7 January 2016 at 11:18 AM

    I made the same resolution as you did re: workouts in 2015. In June, after almost 3 years of going 4-5x a week, I quit yoga cold turkey because I was killing myself, namely my back, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I gave it up in lieu of walking (walking!) for exercise 3 days a week instead and you know, my ass is actually smaller, as are my shoulders, and I can pee and squat without the leg/bum pain that comes from doing 1000 lunges a week. So, here’ s to keeping it chill in 2016! And of course, eating all the delicious desserts and french fries because…moderation.

  • Reply Christine 7 January 2016 at 11:56 AM

    Regarding your kitchen renovation, I suggest that you select appliances, features, and fixtures that feel bright, open, and unconstraining so that you’ll have a sturdy blank slate around which to sculpt an atmosphere that suits you as yours and Thom’s preferences evolve. Go for classy, classic, and high-quality — or something like that. :)

    Ugh to being a slave to daily pre-dawn long-distance running and the compulsion to engage in punitive exercise. I’m so happy to hear that you’re feeling freer and healthier in your (not-thrice-inflated) body. :)

  • Reply Mary Ann Harville 7 January 2016 at 1:35 PM

    Dear Ashlae,

    It is perfectly fine with me if you use the fuck word!

  • Reply Sarah 7 January 2016 at 2:14 PM

    I empathize with you on the ‘say fuck less’ resolution. When my three-year-old daughter said ‘fuck that’ the other day I realized it was time for me to cut back. Oh, and delicious caramel slice looks all kinds of delicious.

  • Reply Madeline 7 January 2016 at 2:36 PM

    This looks delicious! I’m so there with you on the whole new year’s resolutions thing. I hate them, but I can’t help but want to join in and be part of the healthy eating club in January. So far, I’m doing pretty good (but it’s been 7 days…!!). Good luck on your healthy habits this year!

  • Reply Lily | Kale & Caramel 7 January 2016 at 2:47 PM

    This recipe is life. (Sidebar MAPLE TAHINI CARAMEL FUCK YES.) I’ve also never been one for resolutions (it’s such a stodgy word, isn’t it?), but I like this hardcore MEGA LIST approach. I’m into it. It feels rich and whole and full of yes instead of being about all the ways to say no to life. Which is why most resolutions fail, I think—nobody wants a giant string of no’s following them around in the back of their mind. This caramel slice (LOVE THAT IT’S CALLED A SLICE; it makes me want to say what up home (caramel) slice) is a big fat huge yes to life. Gimme it all.

  • Reply Tori 7 January 2016 at 5:30 PM

    Oh my goodness, yum! Can I just eat this whole thing right now?….oh wait it’s way too pretty to eat. So gorgeous, love it!

  • Reply Holly 7 January 2016 at 6:49 PM

    SQUARE TILE ALL THE WAY ( this coming from a lady who loves her subway tile )!!!

  • Reply Marlene 7 January 2016 at 9:52 PM

    Wonderful recipe with gorgeous food styling, as per usual :)

    I found it very surprising and also refreshing to read your struggles with exercise and healthy eating because I suppose I had this dreamy ideal perception of you as someone who did everything ultra healthy the majority of the time with slacking the minority. I force myself to eat three meals a day – in fact I start with oatmeal every morning and often I find myself looking at food blogs and instagrams of all these other people eating exotic grain/nut/fruit combos for breakfast and thinking I should be more healthy like them!! Thanks for sharing the human side of the styled life!

  • Reply Gena 8 January 2016 at 6:57 PM

    So much good stuff here, Ashlae–really profound stuff, even if you’re humorous and gentle about it all. I’m so glad you’ve been committed to treating your body more gently and respectfully this past year. That’s huge. And I also love that you framed a post centered around the idea of self-care with a wonderful, beautiful dessert. I believe firmly that for many of us, self-care comes in the form of a sweet (yet healthy!) indulgence, rather than the punishing regimes we all see circulating at this time of year. Thanks for being a voice of strength and sanity — and for a recipe that is holy-crap-delicious looking.

    Happy 2016 — I hope it’s rich and lovely for you!

  • Reply Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It Is 9 January 2016 at 4:45 AM

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  • Reply Jessica 10 January 2016 at 7:28 AM

    Please never stop saying FUCK, because I fucking love you just the way you are.

    • Reply Anna 10 January 2016 at 12:30 PM


  • Reply Samantha 10 January 2016 at 9:02 AM

    Hi! This cake looks awesome, and I’ll be making it soon to store in my freezer for much needed healthy treats! I wanted to comment on your kitchen renovation. Have you considered using a designer? I did that for my tiny apartment in San francisco, and it was great. Initially, I thought: “dude, I live in a 450 square foot apartment THAT I RENT. what kind of rich people bullshit is this?” But, actually, she narrowed the choices for me so my Analysis Paralysis didn’t take over (or, rather, took a little vacation from that particular project), and found a bunch of stuff I would have never even considered. From your blog, you have lovely taste, and I’m sure you’ll do a gorgeous job on your own, but having another person might help you keep your sanity. :) In either case, good luck and happy new year!

  • Reply Anna 10 January 2016 at 12:30 PM

    I’m with Jessica. Please don’t ever stop saying fuck. This is going to sound weird but your ability to seamlessly weave curse words into your posts is both admirable and endearing.

    You know what else is endearing? The thought of you eating potato wedges every night for five nights straight. Thanks for keeping it real, girlfriend.

  • Reply Jane 10 January 2016 at 9:27 PM

    Just wanted to let you know this looked so good I made it this afternoon for my vegan boyfriend – definitely didn’t have the patience to wait 8 hours until it was frozen, but luckily it was perfect after 5 hours in the freezer. Delicious, amazing, and will be even better with coffee tomorrow morning for breakfast :)

  • Reply Samantha 12 January 2016 at 11:28 AM

    This looks amazing. Thanks for sharing – excited to hopefully see some updates on the kitchen reno. :)

  • Reply Evan 13 January 2016 at 7:42 AM

    I want to respect your desire to eat well and approach indulgence with mindfulness–but can you tell us how to make maple-tahini caramel anyway??

    • Reply Ashlae 13 January 2016 at 9:40 AM

      Hi Evan –

      OK FIIIIINE. ;)

      • Reply bethoven 27 January 2016 at 12:55 PM

        ASHLAE i did everything like recipe says, but my cake raw caramel looks way too dark its almost same color as base. how you make it so light color yellowish creamy brown top ?

        • Reply Ashlae 27 January 2016 at 1:12 PM

          Hi Bethoven –

          It’ll lighten up after a few hours in the freezer. :) If you’ve already frozen it, you just got some suuuuuuper rich dates. LUCKY YOU.

  • Reply Max 13 January 2016 at 1:41 PM

    Just came across this site looking for desserts – I love desserts, especially healthy ones. You can drop the f-bomb as much as you want as long as you keep posting these great recipes and pictures. I guess you could use various toppings like chopped walnuts or even hemp hearts?
    By the way brisk walking is supposedly healthier than long distance running.

  • Reply Jenna Hazel 14 January 2016 at 6:02 PM

    Tried it. LOVED IT! Making it again! <3 Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Reply renee (will frolic for food) 25 January 2016 at 2:00 PM

    ooooooo baby this looks magnificent. i keep thinking back on this every time i start imagining what sort of treats i want to whip up for WFFF. can’t get it out of my head! glad to hear your taking it easier on your bod. as an ashtanga yoga babe i understand the inclination to go hard early in the AM. one thing i learned this past year is that without recovery time my body very clearly tells me to fuck off. so I’ve been working in chill yoga amidst the heavier cardio bendy pretzel yoga. its all about creating a sustainable long-term practice, whatever that might be. also fuck is such an excellent catch all emotive word! never give it up, my friend. till death do us fuckin’ part. :)

  • Reply Shannon 29 January 2016 at 7:19 AM

    I’m suddenly questioning my running habit, slamming into a big, fat question mark after reading about you giving up your 50+ mile weeks. Maybe I should pull back and see what happens, especially since running in winter can be awful. I’ve already switched my spring marathon to a half-marathon, and I admittedly felt like I was wimping out. Possibly it’s time to reframe that choice as giving myself some space and more time. Thanks for making the choice to talk about it.

    Over to the insanely good-looking caramel slice: do you have any idea if it’s diabetic-friendly? I’ve been tasked with making dessert for my uncle’s 60th birthday this Sunday, and wanted to make something that my diabetic aunt could have too. It looks low-sugar with only the dates and a few tablespoons of maple syrup and it seems low-carb too.

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