Town, yesterday you told me it was International Happiness Day. While I think every day should be filled with happy things, I have one for you: Friday was National Chocolate Caramel Day. Somehow I think this should be an every day kind of thing as well!
Caramel is really just the Maillard reaction turning sugar into something rich, brown, gooey and addictive. While it is often augmented with creamy dairy, I wanted to go in another direction. After all, I like my sugar straight. 🙂
We have a special kind of caramel here – maple syrup. Tree sap from maple trees is heated for long periods of time to boil off the water and concentrate the sugary goodness within. Depending on the grade and colour of syrup, it is either more or less caramel-y.
This decadent-tasting dessert tastes like a million calories but each serving is only 98 calories and it is both dairy-free and gluten-free. Huzzah!
Now, I must confess – this idea came about because of two inspiring ladies. Amy at Chew Out Loud makes a delicious almond jello – the kind of fresh tasting dessert you crave on a hot summer day. If you haven’t had it, hie thee to the nearest Asian supermarket – it’s so much more refreshing than plain old ice cream! If you want to make it yourself, try Amy’s four ingredient recipe: http://www.chewoutloud.com/2014/06/20/easy-homemade-almond-jello/
Victoria Belanger, The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn, makes jello sing! Her recipe for Thanksgiving Maple Almond Jello is almost like a gummie-cream version of maple sugar candies: http://jellomoldmistress.com/2011/11/22/maple-almond-jello/
The success of this dessert requires two things:
- everything ready on the counter before you begin
- patience (eek!)
Here’s what you need for the chocolate layer:
- 2 cups dark chocolate almond milk
- 2 envelopes of gelatin (14.25 g)
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate almond milk
No, you aren’t reading that wrong. There are only three ingredients and this layer would be terrific all on its own.
Here’s what you need for the maple layer:
- 1 envelope of gelatin (7.2 g)
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp dark chocolate almond milk
Only 4 things! Wow!
Let’s get to it.
I don’t own 3 ounce shot glasses – I wish I did, because that would be the perfect serving dish for this delight. Instead, I used 12 adorable tiny melamine bowls. As with all jello, make sure to rinse the dishes with cool tap water and only partially let them dry so that if you want to turn it out onto a fancy serving plate, you can.
Measure out 2 cups of dark chocolate almond milk.
Pour the almond milk into a saucepan and heat it to boiling.
Once it has come to a boil, bring the heat down to a simmer and let it go for a bit – you want the milk to reduce to 1 1/2 cups anyway and this gives you time to play with the gelatin side of things. Measure out 1/2 cup of dark chocolate almond milk into a large measuring cup and add the almond extract and gelatin.
Once the gelatin is completely incorporated, pour in the steaming hot almond milk from the saucepan.
Set out your serving dishes and pour 3/16 cup into each of the 12 containers. 3/16 is just three quarters of the way full in a one quarter cup measuring cup. 🙂
Now place these dulcet beauties on a large baking sheet and slide them into the refrigerator so that the gelatin can congeal. This will take about an hour.
If you stopped now, you’d have a fabulous dessert, but let’s go on – the maple layer cranks it up to the next level. 🙂
In a large measuring cup, add the maple syrup, 1/4 cup water, dark chocolate almond milk and 1 envelope of gelatin.
Boil water in a kettle. Add one cup to the maple mixture.
Now it’s time to haul the nicely set chocolate almond gels from the refrigerator.
Pour 3/16 cup of the maple mixture over the chocolate. Return the gels to the refrigerator for another hour.
Once the gels set, they are ready to enjoy. They are cool, refreshing, maply and there is a distinct amaretto aftertaste in every bite. YUM! Actually, this is the first chocolate dish I’ve ever had where the chocolate serves as a background – it’s really the maple and almond you notice, which is interesting because the only ingredient you see is the chocolate! The maple layer simply looks like a smoky brandy-coloured glaze across the top.
Each of the 12 servings has this nutrition:
- Calories: 98
- Fat: 0.7 g
- Carbs: 21.9 g
- Protein: 0.5 g
I’ve eaten half of the little darlings already! I know maple isn’t your thing, Town, but I bet that homemade chili apple syrup I gave you would make a great Mexican Hot Chocolate flavour!