The first time I tried cacao, I bought a small bag of cacao powder to try in place of cocoa powder and I will never, ever go back to using cocoa powder. Cacao has the most amazing, rich chocolate flavor. I personally find that cacao is also much less bitter than cocoa. While sometimes used interchangeably, cacao is the raw, un-roasted, more nutrient dense version of cocoa. Cacao is rich in antioxidants, minerals such as magnesium and iron, fiber and also contains a decent amount of protein.
While I am definitely more of a savory treats lover, whenever the craving hits for an indulgent sweet treat, I will go for a small amount of chocolate. The chocolatey bites in the recipe below are somewhere between fudge and a brownie. They are so rich, decadent and satisfying I seriously forget that they are a healthier treat. Since the sweetness comes from Medjool dates, you get the sweet taste, but also fiber from the dates and therefore you avoid the “sugar crash” some may experience. Medjool dates are also a great source of potassium and magnesium.
Makes 20 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
1 Pound Medjool Dates – Pits Removed and Chopped (about 28 dates)
1 Cup of Unsalted, Raw Almonds
2 Cups of Walnuts
1 Cup Cacao (this is my favorite brand)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Cup of Walnuts, Chopped
1/2 Cup Unsweetened, Natural Dried Cherries
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Dried Coconut (I love this brand)
1. In a food processor (this is the one I use, I love the scraper feature!), pulse the almonds and walnuts for 30 seconds. Add the chopped dates and pulse for another 30 seconds. Remove the lid and check the consistency. The ingredients will begin to look crumbly. Continue to pulse until the mixture begins to come together and form a ball or a uniform mixture. This will take around 2 minutes.
2. Turn the food processor off. Remove the lid and using a spatula, evenly distribute the mixture around the base of the food processor. Add the vanilla, salt, and cacao. Replace the lid and pulse until the cacao is mixed throughout.
3. If you are adding the optional ingredients, add them in at the very end and quickly pulse so that there are distinguishable pieces left of the walnuts, cherries and coconut.
4. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment or wax paper. Make sure there is some excess paper that comes just above the sides of the dish. Dump the mixture from the food processor into the dish.
5. Rip off another piece of parchment or wax paper that is large enough to cover the dish. Place this piece over the mixture and press the mixture down into the corners of the dish. I suggest using the paper because even though I wash my hands a million times before I touch food, I feel like this is cleaner. I would seriously be mortified/gag if I gave someone one of these and there was a fingerprint in one!
6. I like to cut them into roughly 1 inch pieces by lifting them out of the dish (this is where that overhang of wax or parchment paper comes in handy!) and cutting down the middle. I then cut each half in half so that I have four long pieces, and I halve those again. I then repeat this going in the other direction.
You can store these in the fridge or on the counter in a sealed bag or lidded container for up to two weeks, but they probably won’t last that long!
I love these bites with bits of walnut, tart dried fruit and coconut throughout but my husband likes the plain Jane, “less is more” version without the coconut and dried fruit. Which way do you prefer?! What is your go to when you are craving something sweet? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you!