Chocolate is pretty much a necessary part of the day for me. I feel a little funny without it, you know, like missing out on that essential morning cup of coffee (or tea). My day isn't complete until I've felt that warm sweet melting on my tongue, the coating of cocoa throughout my mouth. When I was growing up we always seemed to have a chocolate bar around. Usually it was some fancy chocolate like a Camino bar, or something else from the health food store. Sometimes my mom would come home from work with 5 different types of Camino chocolate bars (this was always our favourite), and at least 3 would be gone by that night. Yeah, I know, not super healthy but what the heck! This is definitely a family of chocolate lovers. Now though, I can't really afford to buy nice chocolate as a student. BUT, it is a necessity in my life. I usually keep a bar of dark chocolate on my desk and eat one square each day. It is super satisfying to sit down after a day of classes with a cup of tea and my square of chocolate. I have this tradition (if you can call it that) of getting home, putting on those sweats, and slumping at my desk with tea, chocolate, and an episode of Grey's Anatomy. It feels justified. It is what I need. You know that feeling of getting home and just feeling so relieved from the world? And I mean, I have it pretty easy. I'm not talking about some crazy day full of hard work, sweat, tears, or anything like that. Simply being out (or at school) surrounded by people all day is wearing, and I think it is A OK to admit that. We all need our down time, and chocolate is an essential part of that for me :)
On to these "brownies". I wasn't too sure what to call them. Are they brownies? Are they squares? Are they an alien space invasion dessert waiting to explode?? Ok, no, probably not that last one... Actually they are super simple and amazingly satisfying. I definitely stress bake as a kind of therapy or relaxation technique, and this dessert came out of a long, sweaty day of job hunting and the absolute need for something rich and chocolatey. These hit the spot. They are quick to whip up, and the date caramel recipe makes extra so you can use it after to sweeten anything, or even just spread on toast. I say "almost raw" because the chocolate layer is made from melted chocolate chips and tahini. For a completely raw version of this recipe simply omit the chocolate layer. They are the perfect summer dessert if you're looking for something rich but can't bear to turn on the oven. I don't know about where you are, but here in Toronto we have had some crazzzy hot days for May. So, give these a try and let me know what you think!
Almost Raw Brownies W/ Date Caramel + Chocolate Tahini
Makes 12 bars
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup raw cashews/brazil nuts/pecans (any nuts will work, I used a combo of what I had)
- 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
Chocolate Tahini Topping
- 1 cup vegan chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, melted
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 20 medjool dates, pitted
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tsp vanilla
Place all raw nuts into a food processor and blend into a fine meal. Add in the dates, cocoa powder, water, vanilla, and salt. Blend until mixture becomes cohesive and all ingredients are incorporated, adding more water if necessary. Squish mixture into an 8x8 baking pan, packing down until smooth (for a thicker bar a smaller baking container will work). Place bars in the freezer for 10 minutes.
While Bars are freezing, make the chocolate tahini topping. Simply melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl double boiler style, or zap in the microwave. Mix in tahini. After the 10 minutes has elapsed, take the bars from the freezer and pour melted chocolate over the bars, spreading with a spatula to make smooth. Place in freezer for 20 minutes or until chocolate is hardened.
To make the date caramel place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth (about 2 minutes, but every blender is different).
Remove bars from freezer, drizzle on caramel, and serve! They will last for up to a week in the fridge in an air tight container, or up to a month in the freezer.