Silky chocolate, rich and creamy, decadently delicious. Does this sound like a healthy dessert? Probably not. But, these chocolate cream pie bars actually are! You can devour them without the intake of unhealthy, processed ingredients. Now that's my kind of dessert!
Without using refined sugars, these bars have a rich, satisfying, and subtly sweet taste. Using pure maple syrup adds the right amount of sweetness without putting you on sugar overload. And thanks to cashews and almonds, the crust and filling have some healthy proteins, fats, fiber, magnesium, and calcium. Are you feeling good about this dessert yet? I hope so because I have saved the best mention for last...raw cacao powder.
So let's talk about cacao. We have all heard about free radicals and antioxidants, right? Well, just how do those things affect our health? Free radicals are basically released throughout our body as we come in contact with pollutants, toxic chemicals, cigarette smoke, processed foods, etc. Stress is also a trigger for free radicals. We could go on and on about that, unfortunately. The antioxidants come into play when we consume healthy foods containing antioxidants which can reverse the damage caused by the free radicals. That's why everyone makes a big deal about the foods that are high in antioxidants. You hear this a lot when people talk about berries, for instance. Their rich, dark pigment is a sign of their powerful load of antioxidants which can be a great tool to staying healthy.
That's where cacao comes in. Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate. Cacao also has more than 20 times the antioxidants of blueberries. That's huge! Blueberries are one of the most well known berries when it comes to antioxidants. Protein, calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, sulfur, flavonoids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids are also present in cacao. The precise blend of all these elements combined serve to kick in naturally occurring phytochemicals that have incredible benefits throughout the body, such as lowered LDL cholesterol, improved heart function, and reduced cancer risk.
So what about the sugar in cacao? Good news there. For every half-cup of cacao, there is only 1 gram of sugar. The key here is to be able to use the cacao without adding a bunch of sugar to it in order to keep it in its most useful form. I will admit, when I first started consuming raw cacao, it seemed a little bitter to me. I clearly remember trying my first handful of raw cacao nibs and I quickly looked for something to "chase it down with". That was hilarious! But now I can eat raw cacao nibs just on their own and I think they are quite yummy. It's amazing how your body adjust when you eliminate sugar. I would say two of the standout components of cacao are being high in fiber and iron.
Over the years, I have been able to create many delicious foods with cacao whether it be cacao in powder form, chocolate bars, or nibs. For this recipe, I am using cacao powder and it does an outstanding job at creating a chocolatey filling and crust. You will not be disappointed as your chocolate craving is soon to be satisfied!
My friend Erin is also crazy about cacao. She has a blog called The e Joy Studio and it is most impressive. She is very creative and has a beautiful way of interpreting, creating, and displaying art of various forms. Erin is skilled in a variety of things and I was immediately drawn to her photographs, creativity, and artwork. I think you will agree. This week, she is featuring a couple of cacao recipes on her new blog post, "I'm Still Going On About Chocolate" featuring her "Two On-The-Go Cacao Snack Recipes." And let me tell you, they are delicious! If you are a fan of peanut butter & cacao, or avocado & cacao, don't miss these two cacao treats. They are sure to satisfy your chocolate craving in every way. And while you are drooling over her recipes, take some time to browse around Erin's blog where she shares some fantastic photographs and serious originality!
I hope you enjoy these chocolate cream pie bars as well as Erin's dreamy delights. You can count on some fabulous nutrients as well as some decadent treats!
2 cups almond flour
2 Tbs coconut flour
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil (solid)
2 cups raw cashews (soaked 4 hours)
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
coconut whipped cream
unsweetened toasted coconut flakes
1. Start by soaking your cashews in filtered water for 4 hours. Then drain and rinse the cashews.
2. While the cashews are soaking, get started on the crust. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment.
3. Combine all of your crust ingredients in your food processor and process until a dough ball forms. Remember NOT to melt the coconut oil. Keeping it solid makes it so much easier to work with.
4. Now place your dough into your baking pan and press the dough firmly and evenly so it covers the bottom. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes. You can check with a toothpick if needed. Allow the crust to cool.
5. Once your cashews are done soaking and have been rinsed, put them into your high speed blender, along with all of the other chocolate cream ingredients. Blend until smooth, using your accelerator to help throughout the process. You may have to stop a couple of times and scrape down the sides to ensure all ingredients are being mixed thoroughly.
6. Once your chocolate cream is done and your crust has cooled, spread the chocolate cream over the crust. Place the pan in your refrigerator for about an hour or until it firms up a little. Slice into 16 squares, top with some homemade coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes. Prepare to enjoy and devour these tasty bars! Store any leftovers in your refrigerator or freezer for long storage.