Chewy Chocolate Bars


You will need

For the caramel layer:

360 g (12 oz / 21/4 cups) medjool dates, stoned (pitted)
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 vanilla pod (bean), scraped, or 1 teaspoon ground vanilla pod
1 tablespoon nut butter (almond or peanut)

For the chewy base

80 g (3 oz / 1 cup) desiccated (shredded) coconut
140 g (5 oz / 1 cup) hazelnuts
2 dates, stoned (pitted)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon cacao powder
Small pinch of pink Himalayan salt
1 vanilla pod (bean), scraped, or
1 teaspoon ground vanilla pod

For the chocolate layer

125 ml (4 fl oz / 1/2 cup) coconut oil
4 tablespoons cacao powder
3 tablespoons maple syrup


Directions

For the Caramel layer:

1. Start by soaking the dates in water for at least 1 hour – use enough water to cover them. This is so that they are easier to blend.

For the Chewy base:

1. In the meantime, make the chewy base by adding all the ingredients to a blender and blitzing until everything is combined and you have a semi-sticky mixture.

2. Place the mixture in a 450 g (1 lb) loaf tin or silicone mould. I like to line the tray with cling film (plastic wrap) so that it’s easier to pop out when ready.

Press down the mixture to create an even layer.

Next, whizz the dates with 50 ml (2 fl oz / 1/4 cup) of the soaking liquid, the salt, vanilla and nut butter in a blender until you get a rich, silky smooth consistency. Evenly spread the caramel over the chewy base layer in the mould and let it set in the freezer for 2 hours.

For the Chocolate layer:

1. When the mixture is almost set, start prepping the chocolate layer by melting the coconut oil on low heat. Once it starts melting, add the cacao powder and maple syrup and mix well together, then take off the heat.

2. Take the tin out of the freezer, pop out the mix and slice into 10 thin bars or 6 bigger bars.

3. Place a piece of baking parchment (parchment paper) on the work surface, then grab a fork and use it to pick up a bar and dip it in the chocolate mixture to coat.

4. Sometimes it helps to have a spoon handy to spoon the chocolate over. Pop it straight on the paper – because the bars are semi frozen the chocolate will set straight away. Repeat with all the bars.

5. Place in the fridge and take out when ready to eat.

Tip I often sprinkle chopped nuts on the top, but that’s totally optional. These can be made in a big batch and kept in the freezer, although I warn you – they will disappear pretty quickly.

Recipe taken from Happy Food: Fast, fresh, simple vegan, Hardie Grant (UK), RRP: £20, by Bettina Campolucci Bordi

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