What Do You Eat?! Vol. 27 – Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate Cups with Roasted Hickory Nuts Recipe (paleo, gluten free)


Remember in elementary school when you had to bring a treat in on your birthday? Then after we would always get to play “Heads Up Seven Up”. Which is obviously the best game of all time.

If you aren’t familiar with the game, let me explain. Seven kids would be chosen from the class and all the others would sit at their desks with the heads down so they couldn’t see anything. The chosen seven would then walk around the class and tap one person each on the shoulder. Once everyone had tapped someone, they would all go up to the front of the class.

double boiler on stove

The kids sitting at their desks who had been tapped would then try to choose who tapped them on the shoulder. If they chose correctly, their tapper had to sit down and they got a chance to be one of the coveted seven.

chocolate in double boiler

Why is this the best game ever? Cause I always won. Well, I’m not sure there’s a “winner”, really….because as far as I can remember we just played a few rounds and then we were done. But I always guessed who my tapper was.

How? Well, obviously I’m psychic and I can just feel the person’s aura. Either that or I peaked at the person’s shoes. Okay, I definitely peaked at the person’s shoes. I was a terrible child.

pouring chocolate

Honestly, now that I’m writing this, Heads Up Seven Up seems like the dumbest game in the history of the world. Who invented it and why is there not even a winner? Kids are weird.

All This To Say…

My birthday is tomorrow!

Where I work, they’re keeping the tradition of elementary school alive by making you bring in a treat on your birthday. Doesn’t really make sense to me. It’s my birthday…why do I have to do the work? Bring me a dang treat!

adding nuts

It’s okay, though…I’m trying to be treat-free on days that aren’t Saturday. So, I originally was just thinking, “Screw this, I’ll just buy a thing of cupcakes and that way I won’t have to do any work.” But then I realized that giving people food that I wouldn’t eat and don’t particularly think they should be eating is kind of rude and against my principles.

My second thought was to go all out and bake something really fantastic that’s grain free and low in sugar. But then I decided I didn’t want to do that much work and that I didn’t want to have to go to the grocery store.


I finally decided to make something with ingredients that I already had at my house. The ingredients I managed to scrounge up were: Hickory Nuts, Coconut Sugar, Coconut Oil, an 85% dark chocolate bar, and some sea salt. The resulting treat was Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Cups with Roasted Hickory Nuts.


Hickory Nuts

I guess you can’t buy hickory nuts at a store. I’m not sure why…maybe because they’re so delicious. My dad has a hickory tree and for Christmas he gave me a huge bag of the nuts. They taste similar to pecans but to me they’re also kind of maple-y. I don’t know, they’re delicious. If you’re dad isn’t as cool as mine, I’d suggest using pecans in this recipe.

Because I used dark chocolate, the cups aren’t very sweet. My roommate described them as, “alarming but good” because she expected it to be sweeter. So don’t expect it to be sweet or just use sweeter chocolate for a sweeter version.

cups done


Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate Cups with Roasted Hickory Nuts Recipe (paleo, gluten free)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 9 Cups

Serving Size: 1 Cup



  1. Optional: Roast the Hickory Nuts
  2. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet
  4. Put hickory nuts in a pile on the middle of the cookie sheet.
  5. If your coconut oil isn't melted, heat it up so it's in liquid form.
  6. Pour coconut oil over nuts and mix them up to coat nuts evenly.
  7. Spread nuts out on cookie sheet so they're even.
  8. Put nuts in oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  9. After the 15 minutes, take them out and complete the rest of the recipe...
  10. Break up the chocolate bar and put it in a double boiler. You can easily make a double boiler by using a pot and a slightly smaller pot, as shown in the above pictures. Just put some water in the bottom pot and the chocolate in the top pot and put it on medium heat. If you aren't that ritzy, you could also melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave.
  11. Melt the chocolate.
  12. Once the chocolate is all melted pour the chocolate into cupcake liners so that it forms an even layer covering the bottom.
  13. Put hickory nuts or pecans into the chocolate. I just did an even layer covering the surface of the chocolate.
  14. Once you have all your cups filled with chocolate and nuts, pour caramel over the top of each cup. You can use as little or as much as you like. More caramel will make the cup sweeter.
  15. Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt on the top of each cup. (Just a couple granules...don't do too much or it'll be too salty.)
  16. Place in the fridge so that they'll harden.
  17. These will melt easily so you should probably just store them in the fridge.
  18. Enjoy!
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  1. Danielle Bingham   •  

    How about tether ball? Did you play that too? There was always a tall girl who won every time and she’d hit that ball so hard it would go flying around that pole! That one hurt too.. if you didn’t get out of the way fast enough.
    And I tasted the caramel, nuts and chocolate cups this weekend. They were delicious!
    I definitely want to make those for sure!

    • Debbie   •  

      I remember the game but not that name for it. I think we called it something different. Not my favorite game. I’ll have to try those cups, they look awesome. All the cookies I made for Christmas that Alysia put out there were really good. They went over well, especially the Mudslides.

  2. Debbie   •  

    These do look really good, Alysia!! I’ll have to try them. Like Danielle said, you cannot go wrong with caramel, nuts and chocolate! YUM!

    I remember that game, too. I didn’t remember it until I read your post. We did the head thing, too, and sometimes that just hurt!!! LOL!!

    Ahhhh memories…

  3. Danielle Bingham   •  

    I loved playing Heads Up 7 Up in school! Except we were tapped on the head and if someone was trying to be funny, they’d slam their hand into your head and then your head would bang on the desk. They probably changed that over the next generation to being tapped on the shoulder to make it a ‘nicer’ game.
    The bad part about the game was if you didn’t get tapped.. then it was like not getting picked for a team. Alysia, you must have been super cool in school and always got tapped!
    About your recipe, who makes caramel? Who even thinks to do that? I never knew what was in it. Seems there should be some sort of caramel tree that you pick off of and melt down into the little caramel squares.
    I checked a regular caramel recipe and yours looks way better. Can’t wait to try your cookies!

    • Alysia Caringi   •     Author

      Haha, yeah…that must be why they switched to tapping on the shoulder.

      Really? Thats strange to me that you’ve never thought to make caramel or thought about what goes in caramel. Although it seems like a lot of people don’t consider what goes into what they’re eating which is one of the problems I want to fix. And just so you’re warned…they aren’t cookies. They’re just chocolate with nuts. Hopefully you’ll like them. They aren’t super sweet.

      • Danielle Bingham   •  

        Chocolate, nuts and caramel, I don’t think there’s ever been a better combination!

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