Paleo & Vegan Fudge with Date Pecan Crust
This paleo & vegan fudge with date pecan crust tastes truly decadent but is paleo, vegan, gluten free and dairy free. Made with only 5 ingredients. All superfoods that nourish your body, this is a dessert that everyone can enjoy! Just to clear the air...I am none of those things. I am not paleo, vegan nor do I eat gluten free or dairy free 100% of the time. I eat all those ways on a daily basis, and do not restrict myself to rules with eating. I eat whatever the hell I want. I totally understand if you have restrictions for health reasons and/or ethical reasons, but if you are eating in a regimented way because you feel you have to reach a healthy weight or because you fear weight gain, that is not a way to live a life.
I am all about the dessert. All. About. It. I definitely have a sweet tooth. I love going to an ice cream shop to get my favorite peanut butter cookie dough ice cream, eating wedding cake and eating all the chocolate. One of my biggest pet peeves about being a dietitian is that people assume I don't eat those things. Hi, yes. I am human. Just because I politely decline your grocery store bought cookies and cakes at a work party, doesn't mean I don't eat them. I prefer worth it splurges (< she said it perfectly).
For instance, on mine and Nick's wedding anniversary, we had this AMAZING flourless chocolate cake with salted caramel gelato. And when I was in New Orleans I definitely enjoyed some beignets. And I always have ice cream on my birthday. When I eat those foods, I truly enjoy and savor every bite. I typically eat less when I am mindful and savoring each bite. I no longer feel the need to binge eat sweets like I used to. And because I eat more nourishing foods most of the time, I find my taste buds have changed and I can eat a smaller quantity of sweets with the same enjoyment. I tend to split desserts with Nick, that way I can enjoy the dessert and stop when I feel satisfied. As mindful eating has become more and more of my lifestyle, I typically only need a few bites now (however it is important to recognize that sometimes mindful eating also means eating every bite yourself. No guilt. No shame.)
But if I ate that way everyday, it would not be as enjoyable simply because those foods don't always make me feel my best (after I eat them). Since I have a raging sweet tooth, I like to make foods that conquer my sweet tooth and are full of nourishment to enjoy more often.
Enter in this paleo & vegan fudge with date pecan crust. It is made with 5 wonderful ingredients (plus the pantry staples: vanilla extract and sea salt). I'm always crushing on these ingredients in this fudge. Dates. Pecans. Coconut. Cacao. Maple Syrup. That's it, folks.
Paleo and Vegan Fudge with Date Pecan Crust
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup + 2 T chopped pecans, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup natural nut butter of choice (I have used both almond and peanut butter, both work well)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 T cacao or (high quality) cocoa powder
Grease a 8x8 dish (I used coconut oil spray) or use parchment paper. Set aside.
In a food processor (or blender), add the pitted dates and blend until the dates become a paste-like consistency. Add the chopped pecans, 1/8 teaspoon sea salt and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and pulse to combine. You want the mixture to have texture. Once combined, pour the bottom layer into the greased dish and form the first layer of the fudge. (Side note: I put oil on my hands to help form the layer.)
In a small bowl, add the nut butter and melted oil and stir to combine. It may help to heat the nut butter and oil together to incorporate together (microwave for 15-20 seconds). Once combined, add the maple syrup, cocoa powder and the rest of the vanilla extract. Stir until well combined.
Pour the fudge over the date pecan crust, using a spatula to create an even layer. Top with the rest of the sea salt and chopped pecans.
Place the dish in the freezer for an hour to help it set. Once firm but still soft (about an hour of freezing), cut into desired portion sizes. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
I usually freeze half of a batch, and keep the other half in the refrigerator.