I’m so glad that I didn’t give up on this recipe, because it is actually one of my favourites. Even though this bar has substance, it is also quite light at the same time. I absolutely love the flavour of this bar, as you can really taste the cherries, cranberries and coconut. Whereas the dates are more of a subtle flavour, that just lingers nicely in the background. The nuts then give a lovely little crunchiness, which contrasts in texture to the soft dried fruit, and then chocolate just takes this bar to a whole new level of deliciousness! There is not one particular flavour that dominates. It all just works so well together.
I’m still very new to developing my own raw recipes. So with each mistake made, I’ve learnt some very important lessons of what will and will not work. I’ve been working on this particular recipe, on and off, since the end of September last year and it has evolved so much, since the first time I made them. However, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge, although I have to admit that it’s been extremely frustrating at times.
In the beginning, these bars were very soft and I quickly realised I was using too many dates, to bind everything together. However, they did have a lovely flavour, so I knew I was on the right track. So with my detailed notes, from past failed attempts, I continued to experiment until I was finally happy with the texture.
What I really love, about raw slices and bars, is that you can store them in the freezer and pull one out when you feel like a snack. I have also realised that my Almond Date & Chia Bars with Jaffa Ganaché Frosting freezes and defrost beautifully too. They don’t take too long to defrost and their texture is not compromised from being frozen. However, you can also store these bars in the refrigerator if you choose to.
Just remember, when making these, to double-check that all of the seeds have been removed from the cherries. It’s not the greatest task to have to remove chopped up bits of seed from the mixture. You can use coconut oil in place of the cacao butter. However, the chocolate coating will melt more quickly on your fingers, once out of the refrigerator/freezer.
For accurate cup measurements, I sift the raw cacao before measuring to make sure there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.
Recipe Update: I have increased the raw cacao powder in the chocolate layer from 10g to 15g, to give a richer chocolate flavour.
22g (2 tablespoons) chia seeds
60g (2.2 ounces or ⅓ cup) raw almonds
55g (1.9 ounces or ⅓ cup) raw unsalted cashews
50g (1.8 ounces or ⅓ cup) walnuts
120g (4.2 ounces or approx. 9 medium sized) Medjool dates
58g (2.0 ounces or a firmly packed ⅓ cup) dried sweet cherries
35g (1.2 ounces or ¼ cup) dried cranberries
96g (3.4 ounces or 1 cup) desiccated coconut
20g (0.7 ounces or ¼ cup) raw cacao powder (I use this brand)
¼ teaspoon salt (1.25ml) salt
2 tablespoons (30ml) melted coconut oil (I use this brand)
2 tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons (30ml) unsalted cashew butter
2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
60ml (¼ cup) melted raw cacao butter, or coconut oil (I use this brand)
15g (0.5 ounces or 3 tablespoons) raw cacao powder, sifted
2 tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
A pinch of salt
Line a 28cm X 18cm slice pan with baking paper/parchment, leaving enough over hanging so you can easily lift the slice out once its chilled.
Add the chia seeds to a coffee or spice grinder and process until the seeds become a fine meal, before setting aside.
In a food processor, add the nuts and process until it becomes a coarse meal.
Next, add the chia meal, dates, cherries, cranberries, desiccated coconut, cacao powder and salt. Process again until well combined and so the dried fruit is finely chopped.
Now pour in the wet ingredients and process, until the mixture becomes a coarse paste.
Press the mixture into the prepared tin and then, using the back of a spoon, firmly compact the slice further, before placing in the freezer for about 40 minutes.
To make the chocolate coating, add all the ingredients to a small bowl. I like to use a small whisk to mix everything together, as it helps disperse the small lumps in the cacao powder.
Pour the chocolate over the slice. You can tilt the pan from side to side, to spread the chocolate around, or you can use a spatula to evenly spread it to the corners. Just be mindful that this chocolate sets quickly! As you can see on my slice, I wasn’t quite quick enough tilting the pan from side to side before it set.
Once the chocolate has set, use a large sharp knife to cut the slice in half and then again into your desired sized bars. I prefer to trim the ends of my slice, so it looks a little neater for presentation. Or if you would like to make slightly smaller bars, slice lengthways into 3 and then cut these again into 4 even pieces.
Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Storage Tip – I line the base of a large airtight container with baking paper or parchment. I put the first layer of bars on the bottom and then add another piece of baking paper over the top before adding another layer of bars.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse