This recipe for sugar and dairy free sweet treat was developed with a special emphasis on small dry dates as a sweetener. I also wanted the recipe to be easy on food processor, as my previous experience taught me, that blending dates can ruin kitchen equipment if it is not particularly powerful. That’s why I used enough liquid or runny ingredients to blend the mixture together without putting too much pressure on my mixer. Tahini and dates mix, enriched with cacao butter and flavoured by cacao powder and vanilla, makes a delicious spread, that can be further transformed into soft sweet squares by adding nut meal and chia seeds, whole or ground.
The texture of these squares depends on the quantity of almond/pistachio meal and chia seeds added to the original spread. I made them relatively soft and let the mix spend several hours in the freezer, before cutting it into squares. Both the spread and sweet squares have to be kept refrigerated if stored for a long time.
- bag of pitted dates 500g
- jar of organic tahini paste (I used both hulled and unhulled)
- 50g pure apple puree
- 30ml lemon juice
- 30g organic virgin cacao butter
- 30g organic raw cacao powder
- 1/2 tea spoon pure vanilla powder
extra for squares
- 30-40g almond/pistachio/hazelnut meal
- 30g ground chia seeds for squares with fine texture or 15g whole seeds and 15g ground seeds for coarse texture
- 50g pistachio nuts, lightly roasted
Unhulled tahini gives firmer texture, but can also bring more bitter taste, which you will need to compensate with other flavours. Hulled tahini is easier to use, it is more runny, and as the result the spread has a softer texture and might need more dry ingredients to transform the spread into squares.
- roast pistachios on a dry pan for 5-6 minutes on medium heat, turning them over periodically
- cover dates with boiling water and let them soak for 10-20 minutes, depending how dry they are
- drain dates and leave them in a sieve for 5 minutes, shake excess water
- place dates, lemon juice and apple puree in food processor or blender
- blend the mixture to desired texture, I went for a coarse one, with small pieces of dates still remaining
- add tahini paste and continue blending
- add melted warm cacao butter
- transfer the mix to a bowl to combine with dry ingredients, it can be done in food processor or blender, if they are powerful enough, I did not want to take the risk and mixed all dry ingredients in a bowl with spatula
- add cacao and vanilla powder, combine them together
- the spread is ready, transfer it to glass jars and keep refrigerated
- to make squares add almond meal, ground chia seeds, roasted pistachio nuts
- combine all ingredients together, add more dry ingredients if the mixture is still too soft
- line square tin with baking paper
- spread cling wrap on a flat surface
- transfer the mixture on cling wrap
- place the mixture covered in cling wrap into lined tin
- spread the mixture evenly
- refrigerate first, if it is still a touch warm, put in a freezer after that to firm before cutting into desired size
Soft squares best kept in the freezer to retain firmer texture.
It is the first sweet snack made with dates that I myself truly enjoyed. It is necessary to mention that I actually do not like dates, tahini and chocolate as individual ingredients or products, but their combination, enhanced by lemon juice and apple puree made wonders. Both soft spread/paste and squares tasted amazing. I will try to add more cacao butter next time to achieve firmer texture without freezing. Working with cacao butter can be tricky, too much of it and the taste, together with the texture, could be completely ruined.
As sugar, dairy and nut free spread the recipe is simple and easy to prepare.