Years ago, I got really into making raw desserts. As a lifelong baker, I loved creating over-the-top desserts that were reminiscent of the cakes, cookies, and bars I made in my pre-vegan days. Multi-layered strawberry shortcake with a chocolate ganache? Yep, I veganized it and even made it raw. But these days, I am all about simplicity and clean eating. I just don't have the time to create complex meals or desserts, but I never want to sacrifice flavor. Thankfully, I think we can have the best of both worlds and believe a simpler way of eating is ideal for feeling our best.
These Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bars are just as delicious as any gourmet equivalent, and they're made with healthful ingredients like walnuts (full of essential fatty acids), cacao powder (packed with antioxidants), and dates (rich in minerals and fiber). They're still a treat and meant to be relished, but what's life without chocolate and other indulgences? I like to make my desserts count, and enjoy small servings that are worth every bite.
Makes 12 brownies
What you need:
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1/3 cup cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup Medjool dates (about 8)
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
- Garnish: Chopped walnuts, shredded coconut, or cacao nibs
What you do:
- In a food processor, place walnuts, cacao powder, vanilla powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. Process until walnuts are finely chopped but not powdered.
- While the food processor is running, add dates one at a time until combined. Then, pressing the pulse button, add cherries and cacao nibs (cherries should remain in pieces).
- Press mixture into a loaf pan, approximately one-inch thick. Chill for one hour in refrigerator.
- Top with walnuts, coconut, or cacao nibs and cut into squares.
- >> For a more decadent bar, drizzle melted dark chocolate over the top of these brownies. You can even top with walnuts and coconut, and then drizzle on the chocolate for a towering treat.
- >> These bars make a great gift and transport well. For my super-healthy friends, I like to wrap them up in a pretty box for birthdays or special occasions.
- >> Why cacao powder instead of cocoa powder? Cacao is raw, less processed, and packed with antioxidants—and they add excellent flavor to desserts.