It’s that time of the year again and this year I’m determined to look back on it as the year I avoided sugar hangovers, waistline expansion and over-eater’s regret – all common experiences of my years gone by.
As committed as I am to this goal, my chef background and subsequent love and appreciation for the classic dessert cannot be denied. So this year I began to look at ways to really treat myself without the associated feelings of remorse. I think, unless you work in hospitality or you are a knowledgeable home cook, most of us really don’t know how many refined sugars go into pre-made desserts, candies and pastries (trust me, it’s a lot more than you think).
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for balance and moderation. But seeing as I’m going for this goal of a guilt-free Christmas, I wanted to create and share recipes for sweet, tasty and nutritious treats – made using other accessible, healthier substitutes and natural sweeteners.
So I set my mind to the task of mimicking the deliciousness of a couple of favourites, without the ramifications of the refined sugars, fats and artificial additives which commonly sit high on ingredient lists. Here’s what I came up with: delicious, nutritious and guilt-free versions of the classic chocolate bars, Twix and Bounty.
The Classic Twix (with a modern health twist)
This has become one of my favourite sweet fixes, perfect with that afternoon cuppa or post dinner chocolate fix.
200g natural almonds
60g (4 tablespoons) melted coconut oil
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp baking powder
250g Medjool dates pitted
50g roasted cashews
75g coconut oil (melted)
200g cacao butter finely chopped
50g coconut oil
100g raw cacao powder
6 tbsp. honey
In a food processor blend the almonds on high speed to a fine powder.
Place all of the remaining base ingredients in the processor and blend.
Evenly spread the mixture into 9×9 baking tray (1 inch thick) and freeze
Preheat the oven to 180c or F, depending on which side of the pond you live on.
After 30 minutes remove the base from the freezer and bake for ten to fifteen minutes, until the base is lightly brown. Allow to cool.
In the same food processor blend the cashews and coconut oil to a smooth paste. Remove from the processor.
Blend the dates to a coarse paste.
Return the cashew mixture and remaining ingredients to the processor and blend until smooth.
Spread the caramel mixture on top of the biscuit base until the base is completely covered evenly.
Return the baking tray to the freezer for 30 minutes
Melt the cacao butter and coconut oil in a bain marie then add the cacao powder and honey and mix well.
Remove the base from the freezer and gently move from the baking tray to a chopping board.
Evenly slice the slab into 20 finger size bars
One at a time dunk the bars into the chocolate and remove with a fork and allow all of the excess chocolate to flow off the bar.
Freeze the bars for 30 minutes and repeat the process with the chocolate for a double coat and return to the freezer.
There will be enough chocolate left over from the Twix bars for the coating or if you are just making the Coconut Balls use the chocolate recipe above about for the coating. I like to add some natural vanilla or coconut extract to the chocolate mixture but it’s optional.
150g dry roasted cashew nuts
125g dry unsweetened coconut
6 tsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil
In a food processor/blender, blend all of the filling ingredients to a paste. Take a tablespoon (15g) of the paste and roll into a ball and place on a tray, repeat the process until the mixture is used and place in the freezer for one hour.
Allow the chocolate to cool, remove the coconut balls from the freezer and dip into the chocolate, use a fork and allow the chocolate to drain, Put the balls back in the freezer and repeat the process twice more. These tasty little snacks will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks in an air tight container.