This triple layer creation of pure chocolatey vanilla cream delight is inspired by my Coffee Cream Squares. Why vanilla you ask? Because I heard some of you do not like coffee (blasphemy!) and I figured it is not fair that you have to miss out on the joy that is cream bars. Hence vanilla instead of coffee. Also, vanilla is pretty damn delicious. So there’s that.
For this recipe I actually used real vanilla beans. I only recently began buying vanilla pods in addition to vanilla essence. You know those times you try out a new product for the first time and you are just dumbfounded at how amazing it is. This was one of those times. I ask myself how I have lived without it for so long. The fragrance is absolutely incredible, it is visually stunning and it brings these delicious black vanilla bean flecks to the cream layer.
I am ashamed to admit that initially I did not even know how to open the pods. I knew it was supposedly some beans there, but had not the faintest idea on how to go about it. Yes, I had to google “how to open vanilla pods”. While I would love to consider myself as an intelligent girl, I am spectacularly ignorant about somethings.
For the record, you can use any kind of vanilla product you want instead; be it essence, extract, bean paste, etc. Just add it in gradually while tasting to make sure you do not under- or overdo it. That is one of the many positive attributes of no-bake desserts. The flavour will not be especially altered due to no baking, so you have a general idea about the resulting tastes from the word go.
- 1½ cup raw cashews (220 grams)
- 1 cup pitted dates (195 grams)
- 3 tbsp baking cocoa powder (30 grams)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- a pinch of Maldon salt
- 2 cups coconut cream * (330 grams, read note)
- 3 tbsp left-over coconut water * (40 grams, read note)
- beans from 1 vanilla pod
- liquid stevia, to taste
- vanilla essence, to taste
- 100 grams dark sugar-free vegan chocolate
- 2 tbsp coconut oil * (optional, read note)
- Start off by making the crust. This is done by first placing the cashews in a food processor and run until you have a crumbly flour. Add in the remaining ingredients and run until you have a sticky dough that holds together. Grab a baking pan lined with parchment and press the crust firmly down. I ended up using a large bread pan since all my other regular ones were too big. Place in the fridge.
- Make the cream layer next. Simply add all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk using an electric hand whisk (can use a food processor instead). I started with adding 1 tsp liquid stevia and 1 tsp vanilla essence, and ended up adding approx. 1 additional tsp vanilla essence. Depending on how strong you want the vanilla taste to be, and the brand you are using, you might need to use more or less than I did. Taste and gradually add it in. Pour this on top of the crust and place in the fridge for 4 hours (I let it sit overnight).
- For the final chocolate layer you could technically only use the dark sugar-free vegan chocolate. Read additional notes for clarification. Regardless if you use the oil or not, you make the chocolate layer by melting the chocolate (and coconut oil if desired) in a small pot on low heat. Once completely smooth, pour it over as a final layer, again spreading it out evenly. Since you already had the filling in the fridge you might notice the chocolate firming up as you are spreading it, so be quick!
- Place it back in the fridge until the chocolate has hardened completely (approx. 15-20 minutes). Lift the bar out of the pan by grabbing the parchment. Slice it up carefully and it is ready to be served. Store any left-overs in the fridge and they will keep nicely for at least 3 days, maybe longer. Keep in mind that the longer they are left in the fridge, the firmer will the cream layer become.
ADDITIONAL NOTES (*)
* Coconut cream is essentially just canned full-fat coconut milk that has been stored in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (preferably over-night). Take it out of the fridge and scoop out the hardened coconut cream that you find on the top of the can. The reason for doing this is to allow the added water and coconut mass to separate All of the water will have gathered at the bottom of the can, which is not going to be used when a recipe calls for coconut cream. When it calls for left-over coconut water, you can utilise the water in the listed amounts. Regular water or any kind of plant-based milk can be used instead.
Why I torture myself by writing up these posts once we already have eaten all of the dessert is beyond me. I hope you appreciate the struggle I go through. Tell me in great detail how much you enjoyed this and allow me to live vicariously through you.
Best wishes and happy no-baking,