I can forgo a lot of things – wine, cheese, pasta, hot chips (hmm, is that even normal?!) – but you’ll be hard-pressed to find me going without some form of raw chocolate (aka cacao) treat.
As mentioned in a previous post, cacao is a superfood, packed with antioxidants and many essential minerals, including magnesium, iron, manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and phosphorus.
*A little side note: when you buy chocolate, generally the darker the chocolate is, the more cocao and less sugar it contains. That’s why chocolate with 70% cocoa or more will taste more intense (or bitter) than milk chocolate. A lot of commercial cacao powders – and chocolate confectionery and foods, for that matter – are the same. They’re not pure cacao. They often contain sugar, emulsifiers and other additives.
Enter the Raw chocolate, caramel and banana ice-cream bar… a decadent recipe from fellow healthy foodie blogger Kate Levins (who also shares an addiction for mother nature’s natural sweets like bananas, dates and berries). They’re kind of like a fudgey type of banana-split in an ice-cream bar, only they’re dairy, gluten and refined-sugar free.
(Notice that I didn’t coat each bar entirely because my chocolate layer set in the blender and was harder to coat the bars with it. Learn from me and coat the bars straight away while the chocolate mixture is still liquid!)
If you’re a big fan of sugary sweets, replacing refined white sugar with dates, like most of the raw desserts on this blog, is a great option because they contain fibre, which will help to slow down your blood sugar release, meaning you won’t have a sugar crash and feel like you need to lie down after eating them.
Dates also contain a nice amount of potassium which helps to maintain and control fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, and regulates blood pressure. Potassium and sodium are both electrolytes, needed by the body in the right amounts.
Sodium is the essential mineral found in salt – without it, we’d have no apetite, regular muscle cramps and diahrrea. It’s potassium’s role to eliminate excess sodium from the diet. The age old belief that eating salt will contribute to high blood pressure is a myth! You simply need to eat potassium – dates, bananas, really just a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and your body will naturally eliminate any excess salt from your diet.
Prep time: 20 minutes plus freeze time
1 tsp vanilla powder
3/4 cup medjool dates (about 8)
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cacao butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup cacao powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of salt
1. In a food processor or high speed blender, process the bananas and vanilla powder until you have a creamy, ice-cream like consistency.
2. Spoon banana ice-cream mixture onto a lined baking tray into bar-like shapes or use a silicone mould. Do this quickly, so your ice-cream doesn’t melt, and pop into the freezer to keep chilled.
3. Using a food processor or high speed blender again, process the dates, almond butter, water and salt. Start slowly so the ingredients can combine, then increase the speed until a caramel-like paste forms.
4. Spread a layer of caramel over the banana ice-cream moulds using a spatula, then return to the freezer.
Finely chop the cacao butter and place in a bowl with the coconut oil.
5. Pour some boiling water into a bigger bowl, and place the bowl of cacao butter on top. Just make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the small bowl (the one containing the cacao butter). The steam from the boiling water below will melt the cacao.
6. Once melted, add the maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, and stir to combine.
7. Finally, add the cacao powder. Adding this last will ensure you don’t damage the heat-sensitive minerals in the cacao. You should now have a liquid chocolate.
8. Remove your banana ice-cream and caramel bars from the freezer and one by one, coat in the chocolate. The easiest way is to get two forks– use them to lower the icecream bars into the chocolate, coat them evenly and then place back onto the baking tray.
9. Coat all ice-cream bars, then return to the freezer to set for at least 2 hours, or overnight.