This smooth chocolate bark gets its perfect texture by using raw cacao butter and cashew butter. By adding a mixture of roasted nuts, seeds, berries and salt, you have a nutritious, delicious and healthy snack.
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Preheat oven to 170c. Place the nuts and sunflower seeds above (or your choice of nuts) on a lined baking tray and roast in the oven until lightly brown (keep an eye on them so not to burn). Set aside to cool.
Select a baking tray with sides. Use a sheet of baking paper to cover the base and sides, so the chocolate is contained. I've used a 32 x 22cm (9 x 13in) tray.
Chop the cacao butter into small pieces or use cacao buttons. Add to a small saucepan over very low heat.
Use a spatula to stir the cacao butter to help it melt, don't allow the butter to go over 40c if possible. You will need to take the saucepan off the heat from time to time, stirring continually until melted. (I use a digital thermometer to stick in the saucepan to check the temperature as I go, but not necessary).
Once the cacao butter is completely melted, pour it into a blender.
Add the cashew butter, coconut oil, cacao powder, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, to the blender. (This will cool the cacao butter down a little, which you want). Slowly bring the blender to 3/4 speed and blend for 12 - 14 seconds.
Pour the chocolate over your prepared tray. Sprinkle the nuts, seeds and berries evenly over the warm chocolate. I like to then sprinkle a little Himalayan salt over the top, but optional. Tap the tin on the counter to allow the toppings to sink into the chocolate.
Place in the fridge or freezer to set. Once set, cut or break into serving size pieces and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Serve from the fridge.
Almonds have 240mg of calcium in 50gms, as much as is found in 200ml of milk. Nuts are a great protein snack. Eat them raw or activated and it's best to avoid store bought roasted nuts that have been cooked in canola, sunflower or similar vegetable oils. When ground finely almonds make a wonderful nut meal/flour for grain-free baking.
Macadamia nuts are tree nuts that have a subtle, butter-like flavour and creamy texture. The Macadamia tree is indigenous to Australia. Macadamias are full of heart-healthy fats, they have more omega 3 fats than any other nut. They are also rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. There is no need to soak macadamias like many other nuts and they make a very creamy delicious dairy-free milk.
The pistachio nut is a member of the cashew family. The fruit has a hard, creamish exterior shell and the edible kernel or seed has a mauvish skin and light green flesh. Pistachios are a rich source of protein and dietary fiber, they also contain B vitamins, thiamin and calcium. I use raw pistachio nuts (kernels) in my recipes.
Sunflower seeds have a mild nutty flavour. An excellent snack as they are high in protein, delicious added to smoothies and grain free baking. Sunflower seeds can be finely ground to replace almond and other nut meals/flours in baked goods, substitute ratio 1:1. They are high in Vitamin E. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals. Sunflower seeds are also a good source of magnesium, which can help calm your nerves, muscles and blood vessels.
Goji berries are a traditional Chinese fruit that belongs to the nightshade family. They are a small bright orange-red berry that are usually eaten dried. It has been reported, that goji berries have been used in Traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. These little berries are loaded with beta-carotene which helps promote healthy skin, they are also known to help boost the immune system and protect the eyes. Purchase organic berries that contain no preservatives.
Raw organic cacao butter is also known as chocolate butter. It is used to make chocolate, truffles and desserts. Raw cacao butter is made by cold pressing ground cacao to prevent the lost of vital nutrients and separates the thick and creamy butter from the fibrous powder. It sets firm and gives a rich chocolate flavour. Choose certified organic, cold-pressed and non-gmo, my favourite brands are Chefs Choice or Lovingearth. Cacao butter is high in antioxidants, healthy fats and is a good mood support.
Cashew butter/spread is made by blending cashew nuts down to make a smooth paste. I also like to add a little pink Himalayan salt and a drizzle of macadamia oil to produce a delicious nut butter. You will find a recipe in my cookbook on page 306. Cashew butter has a neutral taste, which makes it perfect for adding to recipes to give a creamy texture without affecting the recipes flavour. If you are purchasing cashew butter/spread, make sure it contains 100% cashews, with not unhealthy oils, gums or thickeners.
Raw cacao powder and cocoa are made from the same source but are so different. Cacao powder is raw, unsweetened and in it's natural state, it has a stronger flavour and you would use less than cocoa powder. It is so good for you; high in dietary fibre, iron and is a good source of magnesium and antioxidants. Cocoa has been heated and processed, the high heat when processing kills all the minerals and vitamins.
Maple syrup is an earthy, sweet tasting amber liquid that is produced by boiling down the sap of maple trees. Use organic 100% maple syrup which is a natural food sweetener, not a flavoured maple syrup. Pure maple syrup contains a decent amount of some minerals, especially manganese and zinc, some traces of potassium and calcium but it does contain a whole bunch of sugar. I try to reduced the amount of sweetness in each recipe to the lowest possible without compromising taste. Feel free to adjust to your liking. I use maple syrup in place of raw honey when I don't want the strong honey flavour coming through in a recipe. I have paleo cookies and desserts in my cookbook made from whole food ingredients with natural sugars but please don’t overindulge. Use as a treat only for special occasions.
Coconut oil is one of the most nutritious fats to cook and bake with. Use organic extra-virgin coconut oil which is unrefined and unbleached from non GMO coconuts. Coconut oil has a high smoking point and it is slow to oxidize due to its high saturated fat content, thus, resistant to going rancid. Some studies suggest coconut oil helps with digestion, including irritable bowel, tummy bugs, candida and parasites due to this oil containing short term medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a healthy form of saturated fat.
Use an organic vanilla extract (not an essence) or vanilla powder. Vanilla makes a big difference to the flavour of a recipe, I recommend keeping to the quantities I have stated in a recipe. I prefer Madagascar pure vanilla extract manufactured by ‘Simply Organic’ and for powder, Vanillamax 100% pure, finely ground Madagascar vanilla beans produced by Bulletproof.
I am sure you will notice as you read my recipes that cinnamon appears quite frequently. It lends itself to savoury and sweet dishes. I have used ground cinnamon in my recipes if not stated otherwise. The best cinnamon to use is Ceylon (Verum). It has huge health benefits in regulating blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has antifungal properties and candida (yeast overgrowth) cannot live in a cinnamon environment. Added to food it inhibits bacterial growth, making it a natural food preservative and these are just a few of the benefits.
Raw pink Himalayan salt crystals is unlike common table salt which can be a highly refined industrial byproduct, otherwise know as sodium chloride. Himalayan salt is completely pure and may naturally balance the body's alkaline/acidity and regulate water content. In addition Himalayan salt helps in the absorption of nutrients from food and contains many trace minerals for healthy cell structure. I purchase fine pink Himalayan crystal salt so I can use it in my shaker and for cooking.