We’ve had a couple of cool and dreary days here in Denver – I am loving the cooler weather but the lack of sun leaves me wanting a little pick-me-up. What’s better than chocolate, especially the homemade kind that is quick and you can add your favorite ingredients?
I’ve made this recipe (or a variation of) so many times, it’s easy, quick, adaptable and keeps in the fridge or freezer when a sweet tooth hits 🙂 The base is coconut oil, cocoa/cacao/carob powder, nut or seed butter and uses dried fruit as a natural sweetener. I have listed a few variations below but you could try a nut-free, white chocolate-ish version with a few substitutions.
My step mother-in-law coined this recipe “Nora Bark”, and I think it’s pretty fitting since it’s most of my favorite ingredients in one small bite. The version in the photos is a basic variation because I didn’t want to scare people off with my continuous use of chia seeds and flax!
4-6 dates OR 4 prunes + 2 Tbsp raisins OR 1/4 cup raisins OR 3 dates and 2 Tbsp raisins
1/4 cup cocoa powder/cacao powder/carob powder (add 2-4 Tbsp for a darker chocolate – yum!)
3-4 Tbsp raw or roasted nut or seed butter* (you could use coconut butter for a different flavor)
1/2 cup coconut oil (refined for no coconut flavor, unrefined for hint of coconut)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Drops of stevia or small amount of honey/agave to taste, optional depending on how sweet you like it
Sprinkle of salt, optional (brings out chocolate/carob flavor)
chopped or sliced nuts (almonds are pictured but peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds etc would all be good)
cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips/chunks or carob chips
shredded coconut (unsweetened or sweetened)
dried fruit (goji berries, cranberries, candied orange peel, mango, pineapple, cherry, banana chips etc)
spices (cinnamon, ginger)
cayenne or chili pepper (for a Mayan chocolate experience!)
maca or lucuma powder
crisp rice cereal or granola
chopped bacon (for the chocolate and bacon dessert craze going around!)
toffee bits or mini marshmallows
smoked or flavored sea salts
flavored oils (peppermint, almond etc)
1. In a small bowl, add dates/prunes/raisins and cover with boiling water until soft. Drain and set aside.
2. Meawhile, melt coconut oil. (I set the glass jar of coconut oil in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot or boiling water and let it melt that way).
3. Add softened dates/raisins, liquified coconut oil, nut/seed butter, cocoa/cacao/carob powder, vanilla and a dash of sea salt to the bowl of a food processor and blend until well incorporated (about 1 minute).
4. Add mix-ins (see above for ideas) if desired, stir and pour into a parchment lined medium loaf pan or into small mini muffin liners or sample paper cups (as show in my photos). Freeze or refrigerate until hardened and enjoy!
*Recipe Notes: Cashew butter and almond butter are more mild flavors and pair well with tropical add-ins and zests while peanut butter and sunflower seed butter or tahini are more distinctive.
Coconut butter could be used instead of nut butter but it needs to be warmed over low heat slightly to be well incorporated. Also, I haven’t tried this but had a thought to add 1/2 of a ripe mashed banana as a substitute for the dates/prunes/raisins but it would take on a banana flavor.
Flavor and Variation Ideas
Dark Chocolate Goji – use cashew or almond butter, add in goji berries, cacao nibs and sprinkle the top with a bit of coarser grain sea salt
Peanut Butter Bliss – use dates, peanut butter for nut butter, add in chopped roasted peanuts
Superfood Chocolate – use raw almond butter, add in 1 tsp ground flax, 1 tsp chia seed, raw cacao powder, a pinch of maca powder and fruit sweetened cranberries or cherries
Tropical Coconut- Macademia – use cashew butter and dates and add shredded coconut and chopped macademia nuts
What flavor would you make?