Raw Walnut Cacao Dreamy Bars

by Susan on August 17, 2012

I have been fixated on omega 3’s (more on that in a minute). I have also been fixated on creating a new dessert bar recipe (I think you can understand that one). Two fixations came together and these tasty raw walnut cacao bars were born.

First, lets talk omega 3’s. Why the fixation, you ask? Well, they are critical for brain and heart health, fight inflammation,  and reduce your risk of depression amongst other things. Our bodies don’t make them, we need them and vegan diets tend to be heavy on omega 6 and lacking in the 3’s. In fact, an omega 3 deficiency is prevalent in our diets today because of how our food is processed and the dietary choices we make.

One of the first things we think of for Omega 3’s is fish and fish oil. Interestingly enough, with fish being farmed and fed diets of grain instead of their traditional diet of plants and algae, the levels of omega 3 have been seriously declining. But since a raw, vegan diet doesn’t include fish, where else can you get your omega 3’s? Great sources are flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts!  It is good to note that greens also contain higher levels of omega 3’s so drink your green drinks! 

With it’s own antioxidant properties, cacao (chocolate) makes a great pairing with walnuts. I made a quick raw cashew crust (yes you can find raw cashews here), a lovely walnut filling and topped the whole thing off with a tasty, easy cacao ganache. Delicious and filling, these bars shout bakery case…no one will believe they are a healthy raw snack!

For the crust, I used raw cashews from Navitas Naturals. They use a special process to keep the extraction under low heat so they are truly raw. You can find them here: Raw Cashews .

To get a fine flour, I used the dry container for my Vitamix.

To get the finest flour, process the cashews in batches, sift and reprocess the left over chunks with the next batch. You will get a beautiful, fine cashew flour that will mimic a real pastry crust.

Raw Walnut Cacao Dreamy Bars

(makes 64 1-inch bars)

Crust:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 3 tablespoons cacao
  • 1 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or other liquid sweetener
1. Process cashews in high-speed blender in three batches. Sift out chunks between batches. 
2. Stir in cacao powder, melted coconut oil and sweetener. 
3. Press into glass 8 x8-inch pan and place in refrigerator.

 

Filling:
      • 1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds
      • 2/3 cup dried coconut, unsweetened
      • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
      • 1/2 cup coconut butter, softened
      • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (not raw but used in many raw recipes)
      • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Mix all ingredients together, spread over crust layer, return to refrigerator. 

Glaze:

      • 1/4 cup cacao
      • 1/4 cup agave (or other liquid sweetener)
      • 1/8 cup coconut oil, melted
1. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Pour over crust/filling mixture. Chill until set. 
*Note: These are very calorie dense. A small bar goes a very long way. I cut them in 1″ squares and that is plenty!!
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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel @ Almonds and Avocados August 17, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I’m always looking for ways to naturally supplement my Omega-3 intake and walnuts are one of my absolute favorite foods!! These bars look delicious and rich–I’ll definitely be making them soon! Thanks for the recipe :)

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Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy August 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm

oh my gosh that looks truly delightful!

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Elaine L. James August 18, 2012 at 6:38 am

I no longer use Agave, since learning what is being sold as Agave is 90% High Fructose Corn Syrup, and that Agave has been linked to liver disease.

Elaine L. James, BASW, BSN, RN

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Susan August 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Elaine: I originally wasn’t going to publish your comment because it is very misleading and inaccurate. High fructose corn syrup is made from corn. Agave nectar is made from agave plants. While you do have to be diligent about selecting an agave nectar from a trusted source (as in all our food selections), for it to be 90% high fructose corn syrup, it would have to be labeled that way. As to the liver disease comment, fructose, not agave, ingested in very high levels is “associated with an increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, according to a study published in June 2008 in “Journal of Hepatology.” Dr. Weil, a highly respected integrative physician writes about the study here: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400722/Is-Agave-Syrup-Dangerous.html

This leads me to one of the things that I really appreciate about good agave. You need very little to sweeten. If you look at the bars in this recipe, there is 5 tablespoons of agave in the entire recipe of 64 servings. That means you get .07 tablespoon of agave when you eat one of these bars. If using traditional sweeteners, you would use much more of the sweetener.

While I do not promote agave as a “health food” and I think we need to be very conscious of our consumption of all sugars, a good, raw, pure agave can be an acceptable alternative sweetener.

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Kimberly August 18, 2012 at 7:46 am

These look wonderful. By chance, did you experiment with other nut meats besides walnuts? Before I attempt my own trial and error process, what did you try? What results were more desirable than others? I am very allergic to walnuts, sadly, they make my tongue and throat numb and a little puffy. Thank you!

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Jessie August 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Love your creativity in the kitchen. Photos are lovely too. Cannot WAIT to try these, adding ingredients to my grocery list now!!! Thank you Susan!

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luv what you do August 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

These look incredible! I always have cacao in the house and don’t always know what to do with it. I’m loving this recipe! I’ll just need to pick up some coconut oil!

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Angie August 19, 2012 at 1:39 am

I just love your images, beautiful photography.

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Susan August 19, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Thank you, Angie!

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Reiko August 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm

This looks absolutely delicious! I would make it right now if I had cashews!!

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Ksenija August 20, 2012 at 2:50 am

These bars look heavenly. What an amazing mix of different nuts and flavours! I will see what I can do to replace the hemp seeds.

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Linda B August 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Make them and they are delissssous…of course I did not just eat one. like a whole row..

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Pamela August 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

The substitution of almond meal for the cashews worked very nicely. This recipe was so simple and delicious. This was my first visit to your web site.

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Tanya @ Playful and Hungry August 22, 2012 at 4:32 am

Wow, these look so great… I can almost taste them! ;)

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Lynda August 23, 2012 at 5:55 am

These look and sound awesomely good. Quick question; coconut butter, can regular butter be substituted for it or coconut oil?

And yes, three cheers to agave. Liver health has recently become one of big interest to me. Please folks think about, next to the skin, the liver is the biggest organ. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING including our hormones and what we put on our skin needs to be dealt with by our liver.

Eat well, be well, live well

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Susan August 23, 2012 at 10:09 am

In this recipe, I would not sub coconut oil for the coconut butter for flavor. But in a pinch, it would function similarly, just not taste the same. Butter? I have no idea but I would doubt it as it doesn’t have the same properties as the coconut butter. I honestly don’t even have it in my kitchen and never use it. Cheers!

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Joy DuPuis August 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

What beautiful photography!! And great response about the agave!

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Diane August 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Susan, I made these for my girlfriends last weekend and they LOVED THEM!!! I didn’t have much agave, so I substituted raw honey. They were so decadent! They are very rich, but my girlfriends were happy to take some home with them…LOL

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Karen Faivre August 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm

My gawd those look insanely great! I would love to make them.

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Amy @ fragrantvanillacake August 23, 2012 at 9:19 pm

These sound amazing! Love the layers and all the ingredients! I wish I had one to indulge in right now!

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Summer August 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Do you think this recipe (or other desert recipes that call for it) could be made without the oil?

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Susan August 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm

The oil is what binds the ingredients together and adds structure. So, you would have to rework the entire recipe and I don’t have any suggestions as to what you could substitute. Cheers!

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Julia August 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have just made this and it is amazing! I used white chia seeds instead of hemp and it was to die for! My 3 year old had a tantrum as she wanted to eat the whole lot!!! Thank you!!

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NINA DOMENICA August 24, 2012 at 3:47 am

Thanks Susan, this recipe is amazing, it will soon be ready my Sorrento walnuts and I absolutely have to prepare it, I think a few bits I could freeze …… eat at Christmas. An embrace of light Italian. But you when you make a trip here in Italy? I host you happy, you just arrive with the plane and we’ll come to take me and my daughter at the airport of Capodichino.

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Ellen Cox August 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Hi… coconut butter? Do you make this or buy this? I live in Calgary Alberta Canada and I don’t think I have seen this? Help? Thanks.

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Fashionably Raw August 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Hemp seeds or hearts??
Love the pics and love the devotion you put into your passion.

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Diana August 30, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I’m going to make another batch tonight and.ill
be using hemp hearts.

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Susan August 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm

As stated in the recipe, I used hulled hemp seeds. Cheers!

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Gen September 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Great dessert! I made a couple of substitutions (I didn’t want to have to run to the store) and one addition. I substituted almond flour for the cashews, Coconut Nectar for the agave, and ground flax seeds (only 1/4 cup) for the hemp seeds. Added Organic Wild Bourbon Vanilla Bean Powder (1 tsp.) (purchased from Z Naturals) to the filling. Turned out great! My family loves this dessert and will definitely make again!

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Kathy Moldrem September 4, 2012 at 3:03 am

Where do I get Coconut butter? I have not seen it-just all those other butter’s that I don’t use. Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks

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Aen September 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I am thinking I might want to try these for my upcoming birthday . . .

I am not able to use agave, honey, or maple syrup. I usually use dates or fruit or stevia to sweeten. Any ideas of how I could substitute? Thanks!

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Chris September 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Your photography is stunning! Thanks for sharing some of your recipes. mmmm

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Kristin September 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm

? On the Raw Walnut Cocca Dreamy Bars, would any know what the fat content is? I am looking for something that has a high 20 grams of fat(good fats preferably) pre serving.

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Susan September 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

There are many recipe calculators on-line. You can enter the ingredients and portions and they will give you all the nutrition data. Cheers!

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sandra johnson September 23, 2012 at 12:38 am

I see someone has been watching meg mcmurrays videos on youtube

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carma lamm October 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Thank you sooo much for this recipe. I love the mix of different nuts & seeds, and I needed a break from dates (as the sweetener). My family loves these bars – we really appreciate your blog!

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yvonne f. March 6, 2013 at 7:11 pm

These taste fantastic. Just made them and can’t wait for my husband to come home and try them. The only thing is that removing them from the glass dish, I struggled with the bottom crust staying attached to the middle layer. Any tricks or secrets anyone could share. The glaze is delicious. So excited, made your orange cheesecake two weeks ago and really enjoyed it, terrific texture.

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Susan March 7, 2013 at 11:44 am

Make sure the bottom layer is still quite soft when you add the second layer. Also, A layer of parchment paper doesn’t hurt (on the bottom). Press the mixture in. :-)

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Kellie March 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

These bars are delicious!! Big hit for my non-vegetarian, vegan friends too!! Thank you Susan

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laverne rose March 17, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I have been raw for a little over 4 years now and most recipes call for the nuts to be soaked 4 hours or overnight and then to dehydrate. I know that soaking is to remove toxins and dehydrate to make crunchy will this method affect the outcome?

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Susan March 17, 2013 at 7:49 pm

If the recipe calls for dry nuts, yes, soaking and dehydrating is fine. I soak and dehydrate all my nuts. I have written about this on the site. Thanks for asking!

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yvonne f. March 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Susan, thanks for the response on the bottom layer. And, I thought about parchment after the fact, thanks for validating. My husband LOVED (let me repeat myself, LOVED) these. Thank you.

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Stephanie Mckissick March 31, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I just made this for an easter pot luck..I haven’t tasted a full square but I know its going to be great! I tasted each layer individually as I was making it:) I had to substitute half of the coconut oil in the glaze with coconut butter because every place open today only had refined coconut oil not unrefined and I had 1 1/2 table spoons of coconut oil left. It still seemed to turn out great. I also put cacao in the filling on accident and freaked out..only to find that it turned out just fine. Thank you for this great recipe.. i’m sure it will convince my friends that my “bird food” preference isn’t all that bad.

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Susan March 31, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Stephanie, So glad you made this! Sounds like you got quit successfully creative! :-)

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Lucy August 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I made it,but the filling was too crumbly. What did i do wrong? How do u melt the cocoa butter? On a pan or?

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Michele October 27, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Love these and your site! I made these today, how do you make them so they don’t crumble apart! The bottom is very crumbly. The freezer helps, but wanted to see if you have any other suggestions. Thanks!

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Indera December 4, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I have a 11 year old son that is on Gluten, wheat and Dairy free food and desert, It hard to find sweet snack.
so glad to know I can make these Walnut Cacao Dreamy Bars and other sweet that do not contain dairy.

Thank

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Heidi February 25, 2014 at 10:41 am

The coconut oil, is it the extra virgin kind (With coconut flavour), or the “regular” kind without taste and smell?

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