I know that food trends can be quite controversial and I hear a lot of criticism against gluten-free diets and all the alternative milks which have come to market. I quite like that idea that people are concerned about what is going into their food and what they are eating – even if is it trendy. I really wish it wasn’t segmented into a class-issue as I truly think you can find ways to eat these types of foods on a budget if you want to make it happen (most of the ingredients for this can be found at lidl for instance).
I am also extremely happy that all this ‘healthy’ food is becoming trendy as it is making my personal food struggles soooooo much easier. I had no choice but to go dairy-free well before there was a trend of it anywhere – and I still struggle with it as I really, really wish I didn’t have to worry about it. And I can tell you, the taste of soya milk has improved significantly since then. The addition of nut milks, oat milk and decent tasting rice milks have been a huge blessing – as 1 in 3 people with a dairy issue go on to have an issue with soya, which is why I try not to overload on it when I can.
As a result, I really appreciate a lot of the raw food recipes which are out at the moment. Mostly because they are easy to prepare and then they are dairy-free. There is also something really natural about eating food in a raw state. I know it doesn’t work for all foods, but some are truly best when they aren’t messed about. Assuming of course you don’t consider a blender messing about!
This recipe uses shredded coconut, which I find difficult to get a hold of in the UK, this is frustrating when it is so readily available in Canada and the US. When you can find it, the cost usually makes using it cost prohibitive. The difference between the two types of coconut is quite significant, especially when you see them next to each other. Desiccated coconut is like small grated pieces of coconut which have then been dried. Whereas shredded coconut has long strands of moist coconut and is sometimes sweetened. Fear not, however, you can use desiccated coconut in this recipe. It will alter the texture but it still works (no longer soft mouse but more texture now). You add some boiling water to the coconut in a small bowl until it is absorbed and this will help rehydrate the coconut strands for use in the recipe. I have added a note about this below.
I am quite fond of the raspberries in this recipe. They happen to be my favourite fruit. I find them a welcome taste to the other bars and slices I have tried, which are usually about caramel and chocolate. Not that I don’t like caramel or chocolate, but I sometimes want something a bit different.
I came across this recipe in a cookbook I received as a gift from my sister-in-law (she knows me too well!). It was from Australia and is full of amazing recipes which I have marked with post-it flags all over. As soon as I saw the picture for these I knew I wanted to make them. I am so glad I did.
These can be stored in the freezer but will need to be allowed to sit for a few minutes before you eat them. Alternatively you can keep them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. They are ready to eat when the middle is soft, like a raspberry mousse cradled between a chewy almost biscuity, chocolatey base and a gooey chocolate topping.
Recipe adapted from Valli Little
Makes 18 bars
This recipe has three parts/layers, which will need to be frozen whilst you are preparing the next one.
Use a 20 x 20cm pan, lined with parchment (Allow a little overlap to give you something to hold when you want to lift the finished bars out of the tin.)
- 50g (1/2 cup) Cacao Powder
- 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) Coconut Oil, melted and cooled
- 12 Medjool Dates, pitted
- 150g (1 cup) Cashews, raw
- 150g (1 cup) Cashews, raw
- 25g (1/3 cup) Shredded Coconut (or Desiccated Coconut with 1 Tbsp of Hot Water, mixed in a bowl and allow the water to be absorbed.)
- 125ml (1/2 cup) Maple Syrup
- 250g Raspberries, fresh or frozen (which are then defrosted)
- 60g Coconut Oil
- 80ml (1/3 cup) Maple Syrup
- 35g (1/3 cup) Cacao Powder
Begin by placing all the ingredients for the base layer (cacao, oil, dates and cashews) into a food processor and blend into a coarse paste. It should stick together when you press it between your fingers. Tip this into your prepared tin and press it firmly into the bottom so you have a level, smooth surface. Place the tin into the freezer to firm up whilst you prepare the next layer.
Clean the bowl and blade of your blender and then add all the ingredients for the filling into the bowl (cashews, coconut, maple syrup and raspberries). Blitz it with the blender until the filling is smooth. (If you don’t have a very powerful blender, then you might want to blend the cashews and coconut together first, then add the maple syrup, a little at a time until it is incorporated. Then add the raspberries. This should help you get a smoother finish.) Pour the raspberry filling over the frozen base layer and smooth this out before returning it to the freezer to set up.
Now to prepare the top layer. Set a bowl on top of a small saucepan filled with a few centimetres of simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl and it should be a gentle simmer). Add the cacao, maple syrup and coconut oil to the bowl and gently mix the ingredients together over the heat until nicely combined and the mixture is smooth. Use a whisk if you need to work out any clumps from the cacao. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and allow it to cool to room temperature before you pour this over the top of the raspberry filling. Return the tin to the freezer to allow the topping to firm up.
Once this has set, remove the tin from the freezer and lift the edges of the parchment to remove the slab from the tin. Use a sharp knife, dipped into hot water and then quickly wiped dry, to cut the slab into 18 bars. Bars can be kept in the fridge until ready to serve or the freezer, but allow them to warm for a few minutes for the best texture.
The bars can be stored in the freezer in a airtight container for three months and in the fridge for a couple of days.