I almost called these sticky toffee pudding shakes, based on the classic British dessert that gets its caramel-y goodness from soaked dates. But I figured that might get a little lost in translation if you didn’t grow up in the land where “pudding” means dessert instead of something cold, creamy and kinda spongy in a cup. So I went with Salted Caramel Date Shakes instead.
Because these date shakes are super simple and get their natural caramel flavor from, well, dates. Specifically, fudgy Medjool dates, aka nature’s straight up candy. As a result, they don’t need any added sugar. But if you’re eagle eyed, you’ll notice the unsweetened banana chips in the photo. Not that you can tell they’re unsweetened just by looking at them.
But, they are unsweetened because the usual grocery standard banana chips are not only sweetened and often in less than stellar oils, but they’ve usually got two words on the label that I try to avoid. “Banana flavor”. Because, really, I’m thinking that I don’t want to know where banana flavor comes from and the AIP avoids those kinds of additives.
So why am I adding in banana chips to the it-needs-no-added-sweetener-smoothie-situation here? Well, if you look around at attempts to veganize or dairy-free-ify the classic, humble date shake, you’ll find they usually have either fresh or frozen banana in ’em or raw soaked cashews. Why? Mostly to help thicken things up a bit to give a nod back to the days when shakes were full of ice cream and we didn’t know they could be made any other way.
So here, my Salted Caramel Date Shakes are made by soaking both the dates and the unsweetened banana chips, rehydrating them enough to give them a good go in the blender and thicken these bad boys up. They’re still slurpable by straw, but nowhere near as thin as they would be made with plain, emulsifier and gum free coconut milk, plus ice.
To amp up the natural caramel flavor of the Medjool dates, I spiked these date shakes with a little vanilla powder, mace and cinnamon. And a good, generous amount of salt. Personally, I’m a sucker for the sweet & salted combination and I like to use the full amount of salt given in the recipe below. But I suggest you whip up your date shakes with the smaller amount of salt first, taste and adjust as needed. Because there’s nothing worse than something that’s too salty. One of life’s little food ironies when you love a good sprinkle of salt on things!
If you really wanna go all out, top the Salted Caramel Date Shakes with a scoop of chilled whipped coconut cream, a sprinkle of date sugar and an extra pinch of cinnamon. And a big ol’ long stemmed spoon to help stir that good stuff in. But don’t forget a straw like I did!
Now, as an added boost, I threw a couple of scoops of collagen peptides into the mix, too. It’s totally optional, but this is a great place to hide some added goodness and helps thicken up the shake just a little more.
Salted Caramel Date Shakes
- Yield: 2 large or 4 smaller shakes 1x
- 3/4 cup / 125 g chopped pitted Medjool dates (about 8)
- 1/2 cup / 45 g lightly crushed unsweetened banana chips
- 1 cup / 240 ml chilled coconut milk
- 1 cup / 240 ml ice
- 2 scoops collagen peptides, optional
- 1/8 tsp ground mace
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of vanilla bean powder
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, to taste
- whipped coconut cream
- sprinkle of date sugar
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- SOAK: Add the dates and banana chips to a small bowl and pour over enough hot, just boiled, water to cover. Soak for 15 minutes, until the dates and banana chips have softened and the water is tinted caramel color.
- BLEND: Drain the dates and banana chips, then add them to a high powered blender pitcher, along with the coconut milk, ice, collagen, mace, cinnamon, vanilla and half of the fine sea salt. Blend until smooth and creamy, then taste. If you would like a stronger salted flavor, add the remaining half of the salt and blend again.
- SERVE: Divide the salted caramel date shake mixture between two glasses. If you like, top with a scoop of coconut cream, a sprinkle of date sugar and a pinch of ground cinnamon. For a super cold shake that’s not watered down by adding extra ice, you can also make the smoothie ahead of time and chill for an hour or so before serving.
I’m allergic to banana. Is there something I can substitute?
The banana is really only in there as a thickener, so you could leave it out. You could also swap the coconut milk for coconut cream to help thicken it up further 🙂
Why not use regular bananas rather than having to rehydrate the chips?
You can totally do that if you like. Personally, I find the banana flavor of the fresh fruit overwhelms the caramel flavor that I want from the dates and also adds extra liquid that thins the shake down. Here, I’m using the unsweetened banana chips (which taste like NOTHING on their own, so weird) as a thickener to give that faux ice cream type mouthfeel. If I could tolerate nuts, I’d probably use something like soaked cashews here instead to thicken things up. Perhaps if you were going to try out fresh banana, using frozen pieces as a sub for some of the ice might give you more of a thickening effect than just normal room temp bananas. If you do try any banana subs, please come back and let me know how they turned out 🙂
This recipe is INSANELY GOOD. As soon as I tasted it, my eyes literally dropped their jaws lol the taste is wildly like a salted peanut flavor!!! A bit less caramel-y IMO, but that could also be because I left out the mace, doubled the cinnamon, and used dried unsweetened coconut chips instead of the dried unsweetened banana chips. I also didn’t chill the coconut milk and just added like at least 6 cubes of ice and it was JUST FINE. I will definitely be making this when I crave that fatty salty sugary hit – I lowkey feel bad about it but yeah, I’d much rather eat/drink this than go off of my AIP diet and buying something genetically modified that’s going to literally make me feel physically bad anyhow! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe for a delicious treat! Can’t wait to try this again when I have all the ingredients you mapped out *prayer hands emoji*