No-bake Millionaire’s “shortbread”

“It’s very rare there will ever be a time where I don’t follow a savoury main with sweet seconds”

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. It’s very rare there will ever be a time where I don’t follow a savoury main with sweet seconds – and I’m talking breakfast, lunch and dinner here – whoops! Which is why when I learnt that I could replicate the sweet, sticky flavour of some of my favourite cakes and desserts without a hint of processed sugar I thought, heck, why not try it.

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Admittedly when I first learnt of the opportunities dates offered when baking, I was skeptical and assumed that it wouldn’t come anywhere close to the real thing – and you’re possibly thinking the same?

Rich in ingredients and rich in flavour, depending on how serious your sweet tooth is – you’ll be blown away by just how delicious these no-bake bars are – mainly because they don’t contain any added sugar!

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It’s a date!

For me, the real key to getting this recipe bang on is all in the type of date that you use. While regular dates are always sweet, Medjool dates are slightly larger, softer and offer a more caramel like flavour which is exactly what you want with this recipe.

In fact most people opt to use these dates instead of sweetener, to the point where I’m actually considering adding them to my next batch of soya milk for that spot of natural sweetness.

If you’re counting calories though, this recipe probably isn’t for you though, considering medjool dates are among the most calorific of dried fruits, although, great for energy considering their high carb content and are they extra points for even higher levels of calcium and fibre!

While Medjool dates are significantly more expensive than the regular dates you’ll find in the supermarket baking aisle, I promise you they’re definitely worth the extra pennies. However, if regular dates are what you want to opt for, this recipe does still work you just may find yourself losing a bit of the extra sweetness and potentially need to keep them on the hob a little longer to make them soft.

If you want to use dark chocolate…

If you want to use dark chocolate for the top layer rather than creating your own, this will work just as. However if your aim is to keep the recipe as unprocessed as possible, you may want to give my topping a try.

It’s important to note that there is a fair amount of coconut oil used in this recipe so you may find subtle hints of a coconut flavour in your bites – you’re welcome to supplement with any other oils, but at the expense of a more processed result.

My aims with this recipe were to keep it as simple, and as natural as possible – mainly to prove to myself that I could make something just as delicious without the processed additions we’ve become so used to tasting!

The Recipe

Prep time: 20 mins

Setting time: 4 hours 

Cost: < £5

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 150 grams of cashew nuts
  • 50 grams of rolled oats
  • 5 pitted medjool dates
  • 50 grams of melted coconut oil

Caramel filling:

  • 400 grams of pitted medjool dates
  • 135ml of unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 30 ml of maple syrup
  • 150 grams of melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Chocolate topping:

  • 100 grams of coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup

Method:

  • Lightly grease and line a square or rectangular cake tin with greaseproof paper – a square or rectangular tin will work best when it comes to cutting up to serve – I used a loaf tin, as I wanted my layers to be fairly thick – but we warned, it’s richer this way!
  • For the base: Combine the cashew nut and oats in a food processor and blitz well
  • Add in the dates and coconut oil and blend again – I found it a good idea to use the pulse setting here to ensure combined well
  • Pour the mixture into the greased cake tin and press the dough-like mixture into the base of the tin – ensure it is a compact, even layer that covers the entire base
  • Pop in the fridge to chill while you make the filling
  • For the filling: Add the dates, milk, maple syrup, salt and coconut oil to a medium sized, solid-based saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Boil for a further 2 minute ensuring you stir to prevent any of the mixture from sticking – you will know when the mix is ready when it becomes really sof and gooey
  • Tip into a blender, add in the vanilla extract and process until the mixture resembles a smooth paste
  • Taste to determine whether the mix is too sweet – if too sweet add more salt
  • Pour the paste over the base and spread evenly over to the sides of the cake tin – place back in the fridge to chill
  • For the topping: Over a low heat, melt the coconut oil in a saucepan.
  • Once melted remove from the heat and add I; the maple syrup and cocoa powder and stir until any lumps have disappeared
  • Leave to cool for 10 minute then pour the mixture over the caramel layer and return the cake tin to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours or until firmly set
  • Serve in squares – store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze and defrost as required.

Have any hints, tips or ingredients you think may pair well with this or other recipes? I’m always down for new friends, get in touch.