Chocolate + mint. Could there be a more divine combination?
I’m kinda partial to chocolate + caramel as well, come to think of it. And chocolate + cherry rocks pretty well, too. Oh, and chocolate + pumpkin. And what the heck–chocolate and chocolate is always a winner, isn’t it?)
But yeah, chocolate + mint is way up there.
Today’s divine concoction is a chocolate + mint Nanaimo Bar that is not only grain-free; it’s sugar-free, vegan and candida-friendly as well. (Who says you can’t indulge in your favorite treats, re-imagined for a low glycemic diet? As our most famous former Prime Minister said–in a radically different context– “Just watch me.”)
The HH declared these “very close to the original” in texture, which is normally a crumb-crust bottom layer topped with an icing-like filling and chocolate top layer. And if you know anything about traditional Nanaimo Bars, you know they are chock full of butter, milk, egg, custard powder, graham wafer biscuit crumbs, and icing sugar. In other words, I’m pretty chuffed to be able to offer these babies to you today.
My no-bake version is made with good-for-you superfood ingredients like coconut, hemp seeds, cashews and fresh mint. For sweetening, I used NuNaturals peppermint stevia (which you can enter to WIN right here!!) and xylitol (with which I’ve been experimenting lately).
Their pale green interior is also a perfect match for St. Patrick’s Day coming up. (Or, simply, Tuesday. Or my birthday. Or “I Feel Like Eating a Nanaimo Bar” Day). Because really, you can never have enough chocolate + mint in your life.
Grain-Free Peppermint Nanaimo Bars
These delectable bars are perfect for anyone who’s skeptical about whether candida diet-friendly desserts can taste just as good as “regular” ones. Although there are several steps to this dessert, it comes together fairly quickly and very easily. If you are still reluctant to try xylitol, you can replace it with coconut sugar.
For the Crust:
2/3 cup (160 ml) unsweetened finely shredded dried coconut
1/2 cup (120 ml) hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup (60 ml) xylitol, ground to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or spice grinder (for all stages), or 1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut sugar (for stage 3 and beyond)
pinch fine sea salt
3 Tbsp (45 ml) virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
2 Tbsp (30 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla almond or cashew milk
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
For the Filling:
1/3 cup (80 ml) raw cashews
2/3 cup (160 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla almond or cashew milk
1 Tbsp (15 ml) virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
20-30 leaves fresh mint, to taste (it will depend on how big the leaves are; about 3/4 oz or 20g)
up to 3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) peppermint stevia, or to taste (start with 1/2 tsp or 2.5 ml, taste and adjust)
pinch fine sea salt
6 Tbsp (90 ml) gently melted coconut butter (not coconut oil)
For the Chocolate Topping:
(100 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate (100% cacao) chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 Tbsp (30 ml) virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
1/4 cup (60 ml) xylitol, ground to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or spice grinder (for all stages), or 1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut sugar, ground to a powder in a spice grinder or coffee grinder (for Stage 3 and beyond)
up to 1/4 tsp (1 ml) plain or vanilla pure liquid stevia, optional
Line a regular loaf pan (8-9 inches; 20-22.5 ml) with parchment paper, cutting the paper long enough that there is some overhang over the sides of the pan.
Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the coconut, hemp seeds, cacao, xylitol and salt until crumbly. Add the coconut oil, milk and vanilla and pulse until it comes together in a slightly crumbly dough that holds together well when pinched between thumb and fingers (if it’s too dry, add another tsp/5 ml milk and pulse again).
Turn the mixture into the pan and pack it down firmly to create the bottom layer. Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Make the filling: In a high-powered blender, combine the cashews, milk, vanilla, mint leaves, stevia and salt until smooth and no bits of leaves are visible. Add the melted coconut butter and blend just until combined (do not overmix or the mixture may curdle). Taste and adjust sweetness.
Pour the filling over the crust and smooth the top. Return to the freezer until just firm, 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the chocolate topping: Place a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate and coconut oil, and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the xylitol and vanilla.
Pour the chocolate over the filling and smooth the top. Refrigerate uncovered until firm (an hour or two), then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 more hours for the filling to firm up nicely.
To serve, allow to sit at room temperature about 20 minutes, then remove from the pan by pulling up on the parchment overhang. Leave at room temperature another 10-15 minutes to allow the chocolate top layer to soften somewhat (if it’s too firm when you slice the bars, the topping will crack). Slice into bars with a very sharp knife.
Makes 18 bars. May be frozen. Defrost, wrapped in plastic or in a covered container, in the refrigerator overnight. Allow to sit 15-20 minutes at room temperature before serving.
Suitable for: ACD All stages; sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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