I’m having a hard time coming up with a reason as to why I shouldn’t be making all things gingerbread every single day from now until Christmas. Maybe even after Christmas. Maybe to start the new year! There’s gingerbread porridge, gingerbread cake, gingerbread smoothie bowls, and of course, always gingerbread cookies. It’s tasty in tea form, delightful as an energy bite, and now I sit here typing this thinking that I probably haven’t lived yet without having tried vegan gingerbread cheesecake. Now I’m thinking about cheesecake . . .
There comes this time, between September and December when it becomes okay – probably even encouraged (in my house anyways) – to transition from pumpkin and pumpkin spice to gingerbread. It’s not on a set day, and I think it changes a bit every year, depending on how cold it is and how long fall looks like fall, and not the dismal shades of winter, but it happens. And if you watch carefully, you can slowly see the transition and one day you’ll notice that suddenly everything is growing up gingerbread.
I think I’ve made the transition. And we’re starting out with a bang, as I partner with Manitoba Harvest to share these Salted Caramel Gingerbread Squares. I say it’s a bang, because I’ve made both a lot of gingerbread things, and a lot of squares, and I can’t really compare any of them to these. These bars are in a whole different league. And that’s something if I’m making that bold of a statement. They’re the perfect sweetness with a hint of salted caramel and the gingerbread shines through just right. I think though, that it’s a combination of the healthy ingredients which offer loads of protein, healthy fats and fiber, because when you’re eating these, you certainly don’t think “oh wow, these are made with chickpeas.” Rather you think, “oh wow, these are healthy. And yes. They totally are. The time for your gingerbread transition is now. Clearly I’m already deep into it!
Salted Caramel Gingerbread Squares
These raw bars are the healthiest version of gingerbread squares you may ever have. Loaded with protein from the filling and base as well as essential fatty acids and fiber, you could even eat these for breakfast if you needed to!
For the Salted Caramel
- 1 cup dates
- Boiling Water (enough to fully submerge dates)
For the Base
- 1/3 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts
- 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
- 3 tbsp flax seeds
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup salted caramel (recipe to follow)
- 3 tsp salt
For the Filling
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- 1 1/2 cups chickpeas
- 8 dates, soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water
- 8 fresh dates
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 2 tbsp Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp fresh nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup coconut flour
For the Chocolate
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp cacao powder
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
For the Caramel
- Begin with the salted caramel. Measure out 1 cup of dates in a heatproof container (I use a Pyrex measuring cup, or a wide mouthed jar), and pour enough boiling water over the dates to fully submerge them.
- Allow dates to soak for 2-3 hours, or overnight. They should be really mushy and falling apart in the water when they are ready.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the dates and water together until smooth and caramel like. Add in the salt, 1 tsp at a time, tasting until it reaches your desired saltiness.
- Set caramel aside.
For the Base
- Add the Hemp Hearts, oats, flax seeds and melted coconut oil to a blender and blend until combined.
- Add in caramel and blend until clumps form.
- Remove from the blender bowl and press into a 9×9 square pan lined with baking paper.
- Place in the freezer to set.
For the Filling
- Add chickpeas, almond butter, soaked dates with soaking water, unsoaked dates, melted coconut oil and molasses to the bowl of a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Add in ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and Hemp Hearts and blend until fully incorporated.
- Add in the coconut flour a half cup at a time. The mixture should go from being wet to being a dough that you can hold in your hands easily. If necessary, add extra coconut flour to help it stick together, or less if it seems to be too dry.
- When the dough is formed, remove the base from the freezer and press filling onto the base, spreading evenly over top.
- Place in the freezer and leave for 3-4 hours or until set and firm.
- When the squares are firm, slice into squares.
- Prepare the chocolate by heating all the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat until fully melted and combined.
- Dip (cold) bars into the (hot) chocolate and set on a plate for the chocolate to firm.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Notes: The chocolate part is totally optional. If you want a snack version more than a dessert, feel free to skip it, but if you are ready for a (healthy) indulgent treat, they really take these to the next level. Likewise, the gingerbread filling stands well alone, without the base if you want a protein bar or just need a quicker version to get your gingerbread fix!
What’s your favourite way to use gingerbread flavour?
This post was sponsored by Manitoba Harvest. Thanks for helping to make the blog possible and sharing your great ingredients!