This recipe was inspired by the excellent chocolate energy bars in Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris. The best thing about these chocolate bars (other than the chocolate) is that they’re chilled. I store them in the freezer and eat them semi frozen on hot, lazy summer mornings (which, admittedly, are rare in New York City as of late). The bars come out of the freezer cold, creamy, chocolatey, gooey, chewy, super sweet and sour from the cherries, and crunchy from the almonds and coconut. They're also reminiscent of a dessert I ate as a child growing up in Croatia and Serbia. When I was growing up, my mom often made little chocolate cakes called “čupavci,” which are rectangular pieces of yellow sponge cake dipped in melted dark chocolate and then rolled in finely shredded coconut. It’s essentially an Eastern European version of the Australian Lamington, and it’s absolutely fantastic. This is not that, of course, but it does recall some of those old, familiar flavors. —Maja Lukic - Veggies & Gin
Test Kitchen Notes
These were super simple to make. I liked that they didn't have any sugar added (other than the fruit). I would note that you can use other seeds in place of the hulled hemp seeds (there are many countries, such as New Zealand, where it's not legal to sell hemp seeds—not to mention, plenty of people choose to not use hemp seeds for various reasons). But I would most certainly make them again. They were tasty and made in a zip! —Victoria Ross
In a food processor, pulse the dates, cashews, and almonds together to roughly chop them. Add in cacao, hemp seeds, vanilla, mulberries, maca powder (if using), and chia seeds (if using) and process everything together until a mass starts to form. With the motor running, slowly add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to come together. It should stick together easily so that your bars are not too crumbly—but you do not want it to be too wet either. If it does feel too wet, add in some more hemp or chia seeds.
When you have a nice sticky dough, add in the coconut, sliced almonds, and dried cherries and pulse several times until just coarsely chopped so that the bars have a nice crunchy texture.
Place a large double layer of plastic wrap on a flat surface. I find it easiest to layer the plastic wrap on a baking sheet. Roll the dough out on the plastic and gather into a solid mass in the center. Use the sides of the plastic to wrap over the dough as tightly as possible, pressing and shaping the mass into a compact 1-inch thick rectangle. Place the entire thing into the freezer for about 30 minutes. (This is where the baking sheet comes in handy—just pop the entire thing into the freezer). When it’s solid, remove the plastic wrap and cut into 8 bars with a sharp knife.
Roll each bar in coconut and serve. For long-term storage, wrap each each bar individually and keep in the freezer. They should be fine in the freezer for a few weeks. I wish I could tell you they’ll stay fresh for longer than that but I actually do not know—I never manage to keep them around for that long.