I debated a name for these all afternoon:
Raw Walnut Fudge
Kit's Chocolate Coconut "Copycat" Bars
5 Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Brownies
Big Squares of Heavenly Deliciousness...
...what's in a name though, right?
The important thing here is the ingredient list. Short and simple: dates, walnuts, unsweetened chocolate, coconut oil and salt.
The inspiration from these bars comes straight out of the "bar" aisle at my local Earth Fare. I found Clif Kit's Organic Fruit & Nut Bars while
banging my head against the wall casually browsing for a bar that didn't contain a ton of funky ingredients or a boat load of cane sugar.
And on the topic of cane sugar... let me just enlighten you, in case you aren't aware. I've quickly determined after 2 weeks worth of intense label reading that cane sugar (and brown rice syrup) are to "health foods" what HFCS is to the rest of the "processed" food world. And I'm frankly none too happy about it. I'm not ready to go into a ton of detail about the following yet, but I'll just pull back the curtain enough to share that I recently had some food intolerance testing done and one of the main things it revealed was that I have a high sensitivity and intolerance to "cane sugar." Not high fructose corn syrup. Not aspartame. Not maple syrup. Cane sugar, folks. You know, the stuff we spoon out by the cupful into muffins, cakes and cookies.
But it's not just the sweet stuff you expect to be full of it. I found cane sugar everywhere I looked on lables (and again, this was shopping in a popular retailer whose main focus is "health.") You'll find cane sugar in "original flavored" soy & almond milk, unflavored almond yogurt, ham, virtually every dried berry, most all nut butters, anything that's a bottled sauce, spread or baked good, "protein" bars, cereal (even the not sweet ones seem to contain trace amounts of sugar) and the list goes on and on.
Picture me - a registered dietitian of 15 years standing in the grocery store floored over how many foods I throw into my cart each week that contain sugar and asking myself "Where did we go wrong?"
I don't want this to turn into a soap box post... I'm sort of a live and let live kinda gal. But damn if it didn't just infuriate me to pick up a food that had no business being "sweet" and seeing sugar in it. I know HFCS and aspartame get all the play these days, but can we all just absorb that we've conditioned the American palate to taste sugar at every turn? And why on Earth have we decided that cane sugar gets a pass?
Full circle on this conversation, and here we are at brownies... which seems totally like me playing into the scenario I just trashed: too much sweet to eat. But hear me out.
Desserts are supposed to be sweet. And I believe that if we stopped guzzling sweet beverages and adding sugar to every other bite we eat, we might actually be able to 1) eat less sugar in our desserts and 2) more importantly, enjoy them for what they are. An occasional sweet indulgence.
Long story not so short - I walked out of the store that day with one bar that fit what I wanted: chocolate, not sweetened with cane sugar. Yes, it contains "sugar" in the forms of dates. But since dates aren't on my allergy list, that makes me happy
And recreating that bar at home with just a few simple ingredients makes me even happier.
(Note: Depending on how "sweet" you like your desserts or how sweet your dates are, you may need to use something to sweeten these up a bit. I've recently
fallen in love with discovered Swerve, a wonderful bakeable/spoonable form of erythritol, a natural no calorie sweetener. It is NOT an artificial sweetener. In fact, CSPI lists erythritol on their "safe" list and it's doesn't cause the same GI distress as other sugar alcohols. The only downside? I wish I'd known about it years ago. And in case you're wondering... yes, I was tested for sensitivities to it, too and I'm clear. Also, if you use "pitted dates" rather than "Medjool" the mixture might be on the drier side. If so, you might want to use maple syrup or honey to sweeten and moisten. Or you can just use cane sugar... just don't tell me about it
Chocolate Walnut Bars
- 10 to 12 pitted dates or pitted Medjool dates
- (about 120 grams) 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
- 3/4 cup raw walnuts
- (about 90 grams) 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Pinch of salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Swerve or sweetener of your choice (if desired)
- Pulse dates and walnuts in food processor until very finely chopped.
- Melt chocolate in microwave on HIGH in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval. Add coconut oil to melted chocolate and stir until smooth; spoon over date mixture in food processor. Add salt and pulse until mixture loosely forms a ball.
- Spoon mixture into an 8-inch loaf pan lined with parchment. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours). Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.