Maple Caramel Candy Chews … Just Three Ingredients

 Maple Caramel Candy Chews from gluten free easily

Son was rifling through our refrigerator the last time he was home for a visit. You know how young males tend to do that, right? He came across a fairly new container of dates. After asking what they were (he’d eaten dates in food, but had never seen them “whole,” as other than tasty brown flecks), he pitted one and gave it a try. He raved over how sweet they were, calling them “candy.” Yes, dates are indeed one of nature’s varieties of “candy” and it was at that moment that the idea for this recipe—Maple Caramel Candy Chews—came to me.

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Maple Caramel Candy Chews–A Great Holiday Offering

Caramels are those ready-made candies that can be quite addictive if one consumes them. I’m talking about the kind of caramels that come in plastic wrappers in a bag that contain “Corn Syrup, Sugar, Milk Skim, Palm Oil, Whey from Milk, Salt, Flavor(s) Artificial, and Soy Lecithin” (according to Food You can make wonderful traditional caramels with your favorite ingredients, of course. There are some amazing dairy-free and refined sugar-free caramel recipes online.

But I wanted something simpler. Much simpler. So I used only two ingredients to make the “base” of these Maple Caramel Candy Chews and then used another ingredient for their coating. Non-fresh dates and maple syrup create a lovely maple caramel effect and you can use any ingredients of choice (one or more) for the coating. Yes, non-fresh dates. As in sort of dried up. When I go on a sabbatical from eating desserts as I do from time to time my dates suffer—hehe. So while you can use the plump fresh dates in this recipe, I think dates that have dried out some work best.

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Coating the Maple Caramel Candy Chews

The only mistake I made with these treats was to make them too large. Yes, these Maple Caramel Candy Chews look great in the photos and are pretty much the standard size for balls and truffles, but they are naturally rich in flavor, so the size shown is larger than needed. I would eat half of one and come back much later (or even the next day) to eat the other half. So I recommend making them about half to two thirds the size shown. Think malted milk ball size. (By the way, you know that malted milk balls are not gluten free, right? “Malted” means barley malt, one of the ingredients that contains gluten). So roll your Caramel Candy Chews about the diameter of a nickel. And to be honest, I think you could even get away with chews as small as the diameter of a dime.

These Maple Caramel Candy Chews make delicious, yet healthy treats for the holidays or any time of year. They’re naturally gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, vegan, and paleo, so they’ll make everyone who visits happy! And tomorrow is National Maple Syrup Day so you have to make them to celebrate, right?

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Maple Caramel Candy Chews with Various Coatings

Maple Caramel Candy Chews ... Just Three Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups Medjool dates; pitted, loosely packed, and preferably on the dry side (about 19 to 20)
  • ⅛ cup (2 tbsp) maple syrup (I used Grade B maple syrup)
  • Almond flour, coconut flour, raw cacao powder, cocoa powder, finely crushed nuts, finely crushed sunflower seeds, finely crushed pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, etc. for dusting/coating
  1. Add dates to food processor. Process for about 30 seconds to a minute in spurts. (Note: The dates won’t process that well if they are dry, but that’s okay.)
  2. Drizzle maple syrup into food processor while it’s running. Process another 10 seconds or so. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the food processor bowl, so that the dates are covered with maple syrup.
  3. Let all sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Process date and maple syrup mixture another 30 seconds or so, until most of the mixture turns into ball. The ball can be as smooth as you like. I left mine with some chunks (i.e., ⅛th of an inch chunks) of dates here and there.
  5. Wet palms of your hands slightly and then roll mixture into balls about the diameter of a nickel (or size preferred).
  6. Roll in coating (or coatings) of choice noted above or choose your own. (I really liked single coatings of coconut flakes, sliced almonds, and almond flour, but hemp seeds, almond flour, and cocoa powder was also a great combo!)
  7. Chill, if desired. Store in loosely covered container; they firm up on their own overnight. Makes about 10 walnut-sized treats or 15 or more smaller sized-treats.

 This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Raw Food Thursdays, Wellness Weekends, Gluten-Free Fridays, Whole Food Fridays.

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21 Responses to “Maple Caramel Candy Chews … Just Three Ingredients”

  1. Elisabeth on December 16th, 2013 9:21 pm

    Ah! These look so good! I don’t have a food processor though. I will keep looking through your yummy recipes until I find something easy to take to my brunch this week!

    • Shirley on December 20th, 2013 12:16 pm

      Hi Elisabeth–Good to see you here! :-) Do you have a mini chopper? I think that might work if your dates were fresh. But there are definitely other options here on gfe that don’t require a food processor. Thanks for the kind words, dear. Hope you found something good to make!


      • Elisabeth on December 20th, 2013 4:50 pm

        I don’t have a mini chopper either! And my dates kind of get like yours because I don’t use them as often as I should.

        I ended up making an old favorite to keep my stress level down. Chunky Apple Muffins and they were a hit! I will browse some more when it isn’t the holidays and I don’t have sugar plums dancing in my head!

        • Shirley on December 21st, 2013 11:37 am

          Well, Chunky Apple Muffins sound great, so I’m not surprised to hear they were well received, Elisabeth! ;-0 As much as new recipes appeal to us during the holidays, like you said our “scattered” brains (I like the dancing sugar plums image—much better!) often mean that relying on an old favorite of our own instead much easier and totally less stressful. :-)

          Hope you have wonderful holidays!

  2. Cheryl Harris on December 17th, 2013 11:07 pm

    Mmmm! Must go stock up on dates! These look amazing.

    • Shirley on December 20th, 2013 12:17 pm

      Cheryl–I don’t buy dates often, but when I do I’m always pleased with the recipes I make using them. These treat turned out so very well that I know I’ll be making them again and again! ;-)


  3. Susan on December 19th, 2013 12:59 pm

    Easy and yummy — thanks Shirley!

    • Shirley on December 20th, 2013 12:18 pm

      Thanks, Susan! You’re welcome! :-)


  4. Molly (Sprue Story) on December 20th, 2013 9:29 am

    Your son sounds like my ex (uh, other than a variety of negative qualities that I won’t get into here, I’m sure). He would taste something skeptically and then go on and on about how “incredible” it was. (e.g., “This soup is made with SPLIT PEAS? It tastes so BUTTERY. This is INCREDIBLE.”) I shouldn’t tease him for it, because I’ve been known to do the same thing (“Oh my GOD, butter beans are AMAZING” is something my sister and I have discussed at length).

    Anyway, glad your son’s dates discovery triggered what looks like an awesome, easy recipe. Also…I did know about malted milk balls, but just wanted to say I really appreciate that you threw in that note for any newbies who didn’t realize. Your posts are always jammed full of fun stories and useful information. Thank you!

    • Shirley on December 20th, 2013 12:30 pm

      Molly–Your opening statements made me laugh out loud but, of course, I’m all for praise of good food made with real ingredients just like you! Son’s reaction to the dates was cute though, and I love that I could use it as inspiration. :-)

      Most folks do know about malted milk balls, but every now and then there are newbies who don’t or even veteran gf’ers who have not made the connection yet. I find that a few folks don’t learn the basics, but instead rely on a knowledge of products that are gf, but don’t always know the ones that are not gf. Do you know what I mean? Anyway, I really appreciate your sweet feedback. I sort of sometimes do “brain dumps,” you know? ;-) Glad they’re useful and entertaining!


  5. Diana on December 25th, 2013 12:29 am

    Just made these for Christmas day. Very delicious and you are right about using older dates to make them more “carmeley” Thank you.

    • Shirley on December 25th, 2013 12:48 pm

      Hi Diana–Welcome to gfe and thanks so much for taking the time to leave this lovely feedback! Merry Christmas! :-)


  6. Cindy (Vegetarian Mamma) on December 26th, 2013 1:04 pm

    What a yummy sounding sweet treat! Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :)

    Hope your week is great!

    Cindy from

    • Shirley on January 2nd, 2014 2:04 pm

      Oops, I missed this comment, Cindy! Must have been the holiday factor. ;-) Hope your holidays were great! Thanks so much for your Gluten-Free Friday linky party and all the sharing. :-) Happy New Year!


  7. Heather @Gluten-Free Cat on January 1st, 2014 6:23 pm

    I’m so glad you shared these at RFT! I’ll be highlighting them tomorrow!! I just love simple treats, and this one is perfect. Such gorgeous pictures too! Happy New Year!

    • Shirley on January 2nd, 2014 2:05 pm

      Hi Heather–Oh, I am so honored, dear! Thanks for all the generous feedback and Happy 2014 to you, too! Off to check out today’s RFT post! :-)


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