recipe, snack, sweet

Cashew Cocoa Squares (Vegan, dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free)

Β If you frequent the large ocean world of food blogs, I’m certain you’ve stumbled on a recipe or two for vegan dessert squares. They tend to have various similarities: nuts, coconut, dates as a natural sweetener, and heaps of natural cocoa to add depth and richness. And, of course, they’re free of animal byproducts.

I have also seen these recipes and even added a couple to my “must try” recipe list (which has officially reached a couple hundred recipes at this point). But when I’m looking for a special treat, I always skim over them because I’m never quite sure how they’d turn out. But an opportunity presented itself just the other day…

My colleagues and I bring in treats to work on Fridays. But when one of my colleagues said she couldn’t participate because of her recently restricted diet, no gluten and no dairy, I was determined to make something she could eat (and that everyone else would want to eat too). It was my perfect opportunity to make my vegan squares!

Hold on a minute- there was one major problem. I didn’t have all the ingredients. And for the ingredients I do have, I don’t have the full quantity requested in the recipes. And I need them for tomorrow morning! What is a girl to do? Re-invent the recipe, of course! Now, I wouldn’t normally recommend doing this for baking, especially if you’re a beginner, but because this is a no-bake recipe, there isn’t as much risk involved! You just need to make sure you have a good “dry” to “sticky” ratio to keep the bar texture.
These were not only delicious and completely sweetened naturally, they were easy to make and I used only the ingredients I had in my pantry. That’s the beauty of this recipe: you can swap in whatever ingredients you’ve got or prefer. Prefer almonds to cashews? Swap it! Don’t have dates but have an extra banana? Switch it!

I hope you have as much fun with this recipe as I did- and I hope you share your mix-and-matches with me in the comments πŸ™‚

 

Cashew Cocoa Squares

Ingredients:

– 2/3 cup cashews
– 10 large and soft medjool dates, pitted
– 1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
– 2 tbsp coconut oil
– 1 tsp almond extract
– 1 large banana
– 4 tbsp honey
– 4 tbsp cashew butter (or another nut butter)
– 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

1. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with plastic wrap and set aside.
2. In a food processor, mix the cashews until they become quite crumbly. Add the dates, coconut, coconut oil and almond extract and process for about 3 minutes or until it becomes sticky and well mixed. Press this mixture into the prepared baking pan.
3. Clean out your food processor. Then add in the banana, honey, nut butter, and cocoa powder. Process until smooth and pour over the nut mixture.
4. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh raspberries or another fruit if desired.