I woke up yesterday craving Nanaimo bars – a dessert usually reserved for Christmas. But with the hubby gone to London, a day of absolutely no plans, and a craving for chocolate, I decided to just go for it.
I figure, if you adjust a dense, high sugar Christmas dessert recipe into a light, raw and vegan treat, you’ve transformed the dessert into something that can be enjoyed year round. My logic seems sound, wouldn’t you say?
This is a rhetorical question. Woman to woman you know that you’ll come up with just about any excuse to drown yourself in chocolate when the opportunity presents itself.
Instead of making the custard out of powdered sugar like like the classic Nanaimo bar, I opted to use almond butter. This was partly because I didn’t have any powdered sugar and was to lazy to get out of my pajamas and go to the store, and also because I was trying to healthify the classic recipe, not drown myself in processed sugar. Although there are days I make cookies with brown sugar, bars with white sugar, and fall victim to the 5 cent candy bin at 7-11, this was not one of those days!
I set off with the goal of making the bars nut-free but that kind of bombed when I realized I only had 1/2 cup left of quinoa flakes and really wanted to reserve them for my afternoon quinoa flake bake. So I scrapped nut-free and decided to do the grain-free thing instead.
If you’re allergic to nuts or want to decrease the fat in these bars, you could try replacing the almond butter with sunflower butter and the coconut and ground almonds with oats, quinoa flakes, or a mixture of quinoa flakes and ground sunflower seeds without affecting the recipe too much.
- ¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil
- ⅓ cup cacao powder
- ¼ cup date syrup *see note
- flesh from 2 vanilla beans or 1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
- 1.5 cup ground almonds or almond flour
- 1½ cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
- 1 cup raw almond butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
- ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
- flesh from 2 vanilla beans or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4oz. unsweetened bakers chocolate *see note
- 2 tablespoon xylitol, ground or 20 drops liquid stevia concentrate *see note
- Line 8×8 pan with parchment paper across both sides for easy lifting. Oil the places that show through with a dab of coconut oil and set aside.
- Bottom Layer: : In a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the coconut oil. Gradually add in cocoa powder, whisking until incorporated. Add the date syrup, and vanilla. Stir in ground almonds and coconut. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.
- Middle Layer: In your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, place all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more almond milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
- Top Layer: In a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Add xylitol and spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate for about 10 minutes, just until the chocolate has set. Don’t wait too long or it will be impossible to cut the bars. Cut into 16 squares with a sharp knife. Place the cut squares back in the fridge to allow the chocolate to harden so they’re not so messy to eat!
If I play my cards right and stick to just consuming a bar a day, I should have a couple leftover for Kevin to try when he gets home… but I’m not committing to anything just yet.
What sorts of treats do you like to prepare when your significant other is away?
psst… don’t forget to check to see who won the kitchen gadget giveaway!