I went to the Foodies Festival at Alexandra Palace the other week with my other half as an early birthday present for him and we had a wonderful day, despite the blazing heat (made even better by the fact that we got the tickets half price through Groupon!) We saw some fantastic cooking demonstrations, ate lots of free samples and bought lots of goodies! A definite highlight for me was the ‘Embrace the Cake’ stall where I had the most incredible raw, vegan, no-bake pecan pie. It was so delicious that I couldn’t believe it was free from refined sugar and made from only healthy, natural ingredients – mostly ground nuts, dates and coconut oil if I remember correctly. The other sin-free treats on offer looked similarly mouth-watering, including apricot crumble, coconut balls, lemon slices, ‘rawreos’ (raw Oreo cookies) and gingerbread balls.
I’m also a huge fan of Nakd bars, which are similarly raw and vegan friendly with no refined sugar (unlike most cereal bars which claim to be healthy but are in fact teeth-rottingly sweet!), and I have been eating an obscene amount of them recently, especially the cocoa ones. Feeling inspired, I decided to have a go at making some healthy no-bake treats myself and the results are these absolutely scrumptious, gooey and chocolatey-tasting date bars 🙂 This recipe was also the perfect excuse to try out the Beloved date nectar that I bought from the festival, which is a gorgeously sweet alternative to sugar, made from nothing but smooshed dates. If you don’t have this, simply replace it with a second tablespoon of honey, or use maple or agave syrup instead.
I used honey and milk in my recipe here but I realise these aren’t vegan ingredients, so I’ve given suggestions for replacements below if you want to make the bars completely free from animal products.
INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 16 bars
- 250g unsalted cashew nuts
- 220g dried dates
- 1 tbsp date nectar
- 1 tbsp honey (or maple/agave syrup to make it vegan)
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 150g oats
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 tbsp skimmed milk (or almond/soya milk to make it vegan/dairy free)
- Handful of flaked almonds, to decorate
- Handful of raisins, to decorate
- Line a rectangular baking tin with baking parchment.
- Finely chop the cashew nuts or blitz them with a food processor depending on how fine you want them and place in a large mixing bowl.
- Roughly chop the dates then add them to the bowl along with the date nectar, honey, cocoa powder, oats, vanilla extract and milk.
- Blend the mixture together using a stick blender or food processor until it has a smooth, mushy consistency.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin and press down with your fingers or a rubber spatula, then top with the flaked almonds and raisins.
- Leave to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours then cut into bars with a sharp knife.