Five Minute Raw Cacao Snack Bars

by Gena on March 28, 2011

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Happy Monday!

Don’t let the enthusiasm fool you: I spent the better part of my day cramming for a calculus midterm and wishing that my weekend frolics with Anne, Evan, Matt, and Sana hadn’t ended. I even checked airfare to Raleigh a couple of times (to be clear, Anne is getting her R.D. at UNC Chapel Hill), so it’s appropriate that the title of today’s recipe—Five Minute Raw Cacao Snack Bars—is inspired by Anne’s famous five minute packable lunches and snacks, which you can peruse here.

Fact: I’m not a fast cook. I can be fast if I have to be, but by nature I’m too methodical to work quickly. It’s the perfectionist in me: I like my ingredients carefully measured, my textures perfect, my meals balanced. I’ve always been grateful for the fact that I’m a raw foods lover, because they’re hard to belabor. The raw recipes I love—soups, salads, pates, wraps—are just too simple to get too nitpicky over, and they tend to work against my own impulses toward overthinking things in the kitchen.

Case in point: these ridiculously easy and tasty raw snack bars. These are very reminiscent of my lemon kissed cashew hemp bars, except the base is exclusively cashew and date (no hemp). I’ve found that simply using a 1:1 cashew to date ratio in my raw snack bars works out perfectly (1 cup cashews for every 1 cup dates, for instance). I grind the nuts in my processor, add the dates, run the motor, wait for the whole thing to clump up, and then shape my bars. The process takes no more than five minutes, and when I add the dates, I can also add any particular flavors I want: cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, cherry, orange, and so on. So, so easy.

I think we can all agree that double midterm Mondays call for chocolate. So this morning, as I tried to whip up a snack that would be tasty, sweet, and energy-giving, I decided to try out my very first chocolate flavored snack bar. My verdict? Two thumbs up. This bar tastes a little bit like chocolate, a little bit like coffee (I say this because it contains raw cacao nibs, and I think they taste like coffee beans) and it’s sweet without being too sweet. Perfect for snacking as you memorize and rememorize the chain rule.

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Five Minute Raw Cacao Snack Bars (raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)

Yields 12 bars

2 cups cashews
2 cups pitted dates
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup raw cacao nibs

Directions:

1) Place the cashews into a food processor and process till they’re well ground.

2) Add the dates and cacao powder, and process till the mixture is starting to clump into a large mass.

3) Add cacao nibs, and pulse to combine.

4) Line an 8 X 12 or 9 X 9 baking dish with tin foil. Empty the dought into the foil and press it down with your fingers so that it’s uniformly thick and even. Refrigerate for about thirty minutes or more. Cut into 10-12 bar shapes, and serve!

Great texture:

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The cacao nibs add a perfect amount of crunch. As you can see, some of the bars were beautifully uniform. Others were a little, um, uneven:

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I’ll learn to shape them perfectly at some point. Why don’t you give them a try, and see if you can do better than I did?

I’m excited to be back here tomorrow; I’ll be bringing you a very special guest post, which I hope will be the first in a very special series of guest posts. I have a lot to say about that—but right now, my eyelids are drooping. Bedtime for this blogger.

Before you guys tuck in tonight, take a moment to read this thoughtful and hopeful piece by John Robbins in today’s Huffington Post. A lovely balance of encouragement and tolerance, I think.

xo

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer and Jaclyn @ sketch-free vegan March 28, 2011 at 9:57 pm

so simple! These are kind of like double chocolate brownies if you ask me…

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VeggieGirl March 28, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Oh wow, love the sound of those bars! Especially since I’m a chocoholic now ;)

Hope your midterm is out of the way!

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Hannah March 28, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Oh yes. Yes yes yes. Having just entered the workforce proper, I’m needing treats and snacks like these on a more serious basis than ever before. And as someone who is currently fuelling the 3pm slump with handfuls of dark chocolate chips from a bag in my desk drawer…. I really should make these ;)

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Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing March 28, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Sounds delicious — specifically the cacao nibs! This reminds me of a test routine I have (it’s actually very unintentional; it just happens). Whenever I have an exam coming up, I have this compulsion to bake the night before. I know, it seems totally counterproductive. But, for some reason, it helps calm me down, and I can focus my brain once I’ve got some muffins or such out of the oven. Must be a trick or something! :)

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Evan Thomas March 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm

I find it funny that all 5 of us are in college or grad school. If anyone knows how to put off studying, surely we do.
Cacao nibs are so perfect. I love their bitter crunch. I hope they get sold more widely in the coming years.

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Sarah March 28, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Gena, I can definitely sympathize with you–I had Calculus last semester and I never looked forward to the tests :( But these bars do look amazing! you can’t go wrong with chocolate! :)

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Mama Pea March 28, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Oh my, I must pick up some cacao nibs. Delish.

I just love John Robbins. Reading his books is what sent me down this vegan path. I am so grateful.

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J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) March 28, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I’m a slow-cook, too! I like to take my time and make everything picture-perfect, or at least, close to it, lol.

These bars look delish. I love raw cacao nibs! The crunchy texture makes my mouth happy. :)

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Namaste Gurl March 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I’m looking for more easy and nutrient- dense snacks to take to school and work, so these look perfect! I’ll have to give them a shot:)

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Emma (Namaste Everyday) March 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I love making my own snack bars! You blow me away with your raw recipes! That is fantastic!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) March 28, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Yay for this: This bar tastes a little bit like chocolate, a little bit like coffee!

I have Raw Vegan Fudge Balls. Same thing. Dates, cashews, cocoa and I like to add vanilla extract sometimes or if my mixture isn’t clumping right or it’s too dry, sometimes a tiny tiny squirt of agave enables that “perfect consistency”.

A 2:1 ratio of dates to nuts usually works for me but that’s b/c i use TJs dates and they seem to be extra moist and juicy. <—TWSS. :)

The bars look great, Gena. And can't wait to see what tricks you have up your sleeve for the guest posts!

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daphna March 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Oh wow, these look delish! I can’t believe I got a shout out in the last post, I feel famous. :) Hope your exams went well!

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Sana March 28, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I spent 12 hours today studying for a genetics lab midterm. Serious mind f%$@*. I don’t think the exam had a solution, but just knowing that you were doing the same thing today just made it a lot better.
I hope your day went well :)

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Tawney (Raw and Exposed) March 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm

I loooove chocolate, so I have been curious about cacao nibs. While some sources call the nibs a superfood, some raw foodists have gone so far as to say they are “addictive”, “dangerous” and “poisonous”. I won’t point fingers, since I’m sure you have probably read these opinions yourself from time to time. I assume you don’t subscribe to the thought that cacao is dangerous since you put them in this recipe. Do you have any comments though on these claims? Is this just a case of a food that needs a moderate approach?

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Oy – I do NOT miss that part of grad school. Good luck!

These look great – I love the nut-date base because the sky is the limit. I made some with cocoa, cinnamon and chili powder that I couldn’t stop eating. Nibs sound awesome – love a crunch!

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Jessica March 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Thanks for the article link! Sort of.. It was an interesting and well-written article, definitely, but reading through the comments was a depressing reminder of serious ignorance and bias against vegan nutrition

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Jessica March 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

The comments on this article made me so so sad. As Jessica commented so succintly above it “was a depressing reminder of serious ignorance and bias against vegan nutrition”. It’s so easy to blindly follow the common western norm, and understandably it’s difficult to consider the possibily that this accepted ‘norm’ is causing so much unnecessary pain, but this attitude can be stifling at times from the people I interact with daily. I feel blessed to have found online communities in the blogisphere that reflect my own beliefs and lifestyle.

Thank you Gena for being so wonderfully open and vibrant, and for sharing your lifestyle and knowledge with the web community. Your down to earth style and attitude always brighten my day. It’s great to find others living and thriving through a veg’n lifestyle.
Yikes that was long – aplologies for novelizing in your comments!

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bitt March 28, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I love a good raw cacao bar. Perfect for late night studying indeed!

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Cameo March 29, 2011 at 5:12 am

YUM! I think I am going to try these out. I have been doing almonds and dates, I could use a switcharoo.

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Mimi (Gingersnaps) March 29, 2011 at 5:39 am

My hat to you! You are about to face down of my greatest demons, calculus — a demon so great I was only brave enough to battle its youthful nephew, precal.

Ride into battle and slay the beast!

Oh, and your cacao bars look lovely! -sigh- I miss my “funky vegan” ingredients from back in the States. I could get cacao nibs if I really wanted to…but they are even pricier. But if you ever DO come to London, hit me up for good veggie places! I think I’ve been to every lauded vegan restaurant in London.

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CathyK March 29, 2011 at 6:04 am

i agree – mondays need chocolate!
thanks for the quick n ez bar recipe…they sound great! i love getting ideas for this type of snack – way cheaper than buying a larabar, and it’s fun to customize your own recipe!
i’m with you – a methodical cook, to be sure. when recipes give how much time the prep will take, etc. i always have to double it!
good luck with your school work today, gena!

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tweal March 29, 2011 at 6:37 am

These look really yummy. I tend to be a fast cook because I am impatient – I don’t like fussing too much. But that doesn’t mean I won’t spend hours in the kitchen making 5 or 6 different dishes at at time. I love to multi task.

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Sylvia March 29, 2011 at 6:50 am

“I think we can all agree that double midterm Mondays call for chocolate. ”

Hahaha, oh yes we can! This made me laugh. Even less drastic moments also call for it in my book, but that scenario especially!

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Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope March 29, 2011 at 6:51 am

Love how simple these are… almost remind me a bit of Luna bars. But I’m sure they are MUCH better since they are homemade. :)

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Hannah March 29, 2011 at 6:52 am

Ah studying sucks sometimes, doesn’t it? I’m doing mostly writing-based classes, but nonetheless, it still is exhausting sometimes. I so want to make these bars-I bet that they taste even better than Lara bars.

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Elizabeth@The Sweet Life March 29, 2011 at 7:06 am

Calculus–ugh! Good luck!!

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Anne P March 29, 2011 at 7:08 am

1) Those look so delicious! Must try them ASAP since, as you know, I only like making things that take 5 minutes or less. :)

2) I hear Raleigh is lovely this time of year ;)

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Sara @ Veggies For Real March 29, 2011 at 7:52 am

Snack bars are not something I make or eat that frequently but on the odd occasion when I pick up a Larabar at Trader Joe’s I really enjoy them. Since these take no time to put together and seem to be almost infinitely variable I will definitely give them at try. Also, as someone who lives in Durham, right next to Raleigh, I have to agree with Anne: it is in fact lovely at this time of year.

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Little Bookworm March 29, 2011 at 7:56 am

Hope the midterms went well! :) Love the sound of those bars. Do you think I could use chocolate chips/chunks instead of cacao nibs though?

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Alayna @ Thyme Bombe March 29, 2011 at 7:57 am

I love that there’s only 4 ingredients in these. I’ll definitely make them sometime since they’re so easy.

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Fran Costigan March 29, 2011 at 8:56 am

I LOVE seeing recipes with 4 staple ingredients, short how to, and obviously delic. Thank you so mich for posting!

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rebecca lustig March 29, 2011 at 9:08 am

you know what? you did the best you could do on that exam– so that must be good enough!! you’re a rock star, don’t forget it.

also, i saw that article! thoughts?

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Jess March 29, 2011 at 9:31 am

Those sound delicious! I’m all about the chocolate this week.

Also, I’m sure you’re gonna hate to hear this, but I love Calculus and doing derivatives! I’m a math geek :)

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Keri - I Eat Trees March 29, 2011 at 9:32 am

The recipe is so easy and they look delicious! I began eating higher raw recently and I’d heard raw was so time-consuming, but for me, it’s actually been a big time-saver! I love it!

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Sarah @ becoming-sarah March 29, 2011 at 10:25 am

Oh wow, Gena… it sounds like you’ve come up with another winning flavour combination. I can’t wait to try these! I think I’ll try subbing macadamia nuts for the cashews as they are a little less acidic. Yum! Love me some cacao nibs. ;) xox

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Gina @ minimalismandmenopause.com March 29, 2011 at 10:49 am

Hi Gena! This is the first time I’ve ever posted on someone’s blog! I had calculus a LONG time ago, but here is how I memorized the chain rule: “ho dee hi minus hi dee ho over ho ho”. It means low times the derivative of high, minus high times the derivative of low over low squared. I know it sounds ridiculous, but please bear in mind that the last time I used the chain rule was about 20 years ago and I STILL remember that darned thing.

By the way, LOVE your blog!

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FoodFeud March 29, 2011 at 11:00 am

These sound delicious. I’m still leaning more towards making your fresh lemon bars, but who can say no to chocolate? I’ll have to find cacao nibs somewhere.

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Valerie @ City|Life|Eats March 29, 2011 at 11:54 am

These look lovely :) And, you have given me a template to make my husband some lara-bar-like bars for his birthday (he loves Lara Bars, and I love the idea of making some for his birthday).

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Debra March 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Look awesome!! Thanks for sharing!
Blessings, Debra
Raw Vegan Diet

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Jen March 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Calculus scares me, but those bars sound great. I go through phases of making cashew-based treats, and I’m in one of them right now. I have cookie dough balls in my freezer, as well as freshly made cashew butter in my fridge. I’ll have to give something like this a try next! I just bought more raw cashews today from the Co-op. Perfect! Now, if only they weren’t so expensive (even when they’re on sale in the bulk section). Sigh.

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Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama March 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I love 5 minute snack recipes! I’ve never tried cacao (mostly because of the price tag) but I’m sure these are delicious.

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Carissa March 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

The article by John Robbins was excellent. Thanks for sharing the link!

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Lindsay March 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm

These look awesome! I love making my own Larabar type snacks. I tend to devour them as soon as they come out of the processor though! :]

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TV March 29, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I’m in college too and I’m taking physics, chem and calculus! In fact I have a physics midterm tomorrow (totally screwed) and a chem midterm Thursday.

What level of cal/physics/chem are you taking? I know this is grad school, but maybe we are on the same material presently?

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Dorry March 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of date-based bar combinations the past month or so. This looks simple and delicious! One of my favorites so far: dates, almonds, walnuts, dark choc chips, cinnamon and vanilla. It’s amazing!

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Lynn (The Cream Filling) March 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Those look amazing!

P.S. I absolutely adore your blog :)

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s March 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm

eee great idea for a school snack! i am making these soon.

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Kate (Bread & Chocolate) March 30, 2011 at 8:38 am

These bars look great, and a like a twist on my recent Sundae treat. I turned 4 ingredients into ‘raw’ cookie dough – spooned over banana soft serve. It’s so creamy and decadent – but it’s easy to prepare and all natural. Enjoy!

http://bread-n-chocolate.blogspot.com/2011/03/sunday-sundae.html

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Tiina March 30, 2011 at 9:50 am

Gena hi, this has nothing to do with sweets, but I just made my 5 minute spinach soup and have wanted to share this with you for a while- it is a Finnish recipe from my Finnish mother (which explains the ii in my name!)

It takes 15 minutes here, but could take 5 minutes… depending on how small you cut the potatoes.

1 L (about 4 cups) vegetable stock
2 potatoes peeled and sliced into small pieces
1 onion peeled and cut in 4
1 package of frozen or raw spinach

1/2 lemon (for squeezing on top at the end)

Bring the stock, potatoes, onion to boil for 15 minutes (or until the potatoes are cooked soft), add spinach and boil for another few minutes until cooked, take off heat, use hand blender to puree. Serve with generous amount of lemon squeezed on top. Mmmmm Pinaattikeittoa! (that’s spinach soup in Finnish)

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Carry April 2, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Holy double-chocolate-truffle-bite Batman! I made these to take rock climbing with me tomorrow, but I’m not sure they’ll last that long. DH is already asking me to set some aside for his bike ride.

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Susan August 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Is there a place on this site (maybe I’m missing it) where I can find the nutritional information for these recipes?

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Bailey October 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I read someone’s comments about cacao nibs being “dangerous” and “addictive” and while I can’t speak scientifically about cacao, I can definitely say that these fantastic bars are DANGEROUSLY ADDICTIVE! They were SO good I completely lost all power of will and ate so many I made myself literally sick.

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Tony January 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I made mine and they were sticky, So I took a cup of oats and milled it, Then rolled the treats in the mill.

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