Healthy No-Bake Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars

A buttery gluten-free buckwheat and cashew crust topped with creamy date caramel and covered in rich chocolate ganache: these healthy Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars taste decadent while containing lots of nutritious ingredients. Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and only eight ingredients. Paleo option, too.

Posting on a Tuesday? Me? I know it’s very unusual and actually not pleasing my mind – three posts in a row … – but even I can make exceptions. Especially when two special occasions collide. First would be today being World Vegan Day. This isn’t to force anybody into choosing a certain diet but I simply enjoy sharing delicious plantbased recipes. Secondly, today I’m collaborating with some other lovely blogging ladies for our first …

Bloggers Gonna Blog Friendsgiving Collab!

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire's Shortbread - gluten-free, vegan and only eight ingredients!

Granted, I was hesitant to join in a virtual Thanksgiving celebration. As you might know this is a holiday not celebrated in Germany. We do have the occasional ‘Erntedankfest’ [which literally translates to Thanksgiving] but it’s nothing official and I don’t know a single person honoring this day at their home. Anyway, I figured every holiday feast needs dessert and that I could do. Allow me to present: Healthy Millionaire’s Shortbread.

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire's Shortbread - gluten-free, vegan and only eight ingredients!

Way different from my recent flourless hazelnut shortbread this is it. The kind of treat you’d whip up for a holiday or take the time to really savour on an ordinary day. Funny story: my first time trying this British classic was as a special Britain-themed week at Lidl [for those not familiar with it: a discounter] of all places. Very gourmet, I know. [Read: not.] I got my whole family obsessed with these caramel-topped and chocolate-covered slices of decadence. For some reason Lidl stopped carrying the shortbread during future British weeks despite them clearly being a popular item and gone very quickly every time.

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire's Shortbread - gluten-free, vegan and only eight ingredients!

But we wouldn’t be bloggers if we let stores decide our food choices, right? Given my ‘history’ of no-bake brownies and bars it’s a riddle why I’d yet to try and recreate the Millionaire’s Shortbread. Luckily, I did after all and – dare I say it?  – these are even better. Buckwheat and cashews are combined with a special ingredient to create the gluten-free shortbread crust here: cacao butter. I just wanted to see if I could use it instead of coconut oil, not expecting anything. But: wow! The cacao butter, despite using a small amount only, lends a truly buttery taste to the shortbread base. Naturally sweet date caramel stands in for the typically sugar-laden variety. My favourite chocolate ganache finishes everything off for an amazing taste experience.

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire's Shortbread - gluten-free, vegan and only eight ingredients!

Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or just an average day when you’re reading this: Make this Healthy  No-Bake Millionaire’s Shortbread and be sure to have everybody get back for seconds.

Healthy No-Bake Millonaire’s Shortbread

Shortbread base:

  • 1/4 cup [40 g]  raw buckwheat groats
  • 3/4 cup [100 g] cashew nuts
  • 1 heaped tbsp/25 g cocoa butter, melted [can sub coconut oil]
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Caramel

  • 1 cup [150 g] dates
  • 1 heaped tbsp of peanut butter [coconut butter works, too]
  • Pinch of salt [omit if your nut butter is salted]
  • 2-3 tbsps water

Ganache Topping

  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsps coconut cream or soy cream [~ 75 ml]
  1. In a high speed blender or food processor, blend the cashews and buckwheat groats into a fine flour-like consistency.
  2. Add to a bowl and mix with the melted cacao butter, kneading to form a dough. Press into an 8 x 8 inch pan and set into the fridge to harden.
  3. Prepare the date caramel by processing the dates in your blender until crumbly, Add in the nut butter, minimum amount of water and salt and process into a smooth caramel.
  4. Spread the caramel onto your ‘shortbread’ crust and chill in the fridge again.
  5. While the base is chilling in the fridge, prepare your ganache layer. Finely chop the chocolate bar and set aside.
  6. Bring the coconut milk to a boil either on the stove or in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate and (!!!) let sit for three minutes. Do NOT stir before.
  7. Stir to fully combine all ganache ingredients. Top the chilled base with ganache and refridgerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting into it.

I’m linking up with Allergy Free Wednesdays#RecipeOfTheWeek, Gluten-Free Fridays,Tasty Tuesdays,Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meatless Mondays.

.. .and because dessert alone doesn’t make a whole Thanksgiving feast don’t  miss out on what everybody else is bringing to the Bloggers Gonna Blog Friendsgiving party:

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Happiness-inducing today: Music. It’s been an ugly grey and rainy day. Stressful with some anxiety thrown in, too. But setting out for short walk after work, just catching some fresh air and listening to brighter tunes helped a little.

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No-bake Peanut Butter and Jelly Chocolate Fudge Bars

Using only five simple ingredients these no-bake peanut butter and jelly chocolate fudge bars are a healthy vegan and gluten-free snack or dessert. The rich topping makes them irresistible.

What. a. name. Yes, I’m aware it’s a mouthful to read and say but I promise they’re deserving of every single letter. In other words: SO good. Inspired by Ronan Keating I’m tempted to say that regarding these bars it’d best to say nothing at all [and let the picures do the talking]. Or nothing but: yes, you want and need these in your life. Unless you happen to have a peanut allergy, tnat is. However, if you knew me you’d also know I’m not good at saying nothing at all.

Cranberry Fudge Bars_3

The making – or rather: naming – of these bars unexpectedly became an educational matter. Story time: when I first made these No-Bake Chocolate Fudge Brownies and brought them to work I had to learn that one of my colleagues is allergic to nuts the worst way. Think: she ate one and asked me mid-bite if they might contain nuts. I felt so sorry despite her not blaming me. Here’s the deal: nut allergies are by far not common around here. Peanut butter bans in schools? Unheard of.

Cranberry Fudge bars_4

As I felt sorry for my colleague missing out not only on the brownies but these blondies, too,  yet was on a roll with the no-bake bars I did some research. Peanut is my favourite kind of ‘butter’ and not actually a nut* but a member of the legume family. Wait … Wouldn’t these bars be nut-free using peanuts?  Long story short: I decided against labeling them as such to avoid confusion but happily learned they were suitable for my colleague.Nut allergies are somehow fascinating – though obviously a huge bummer for those suffering from them – in how much they differ from person to person.

*Honestly, as much as I like legumes – both the word and the food group – peanuts will forever be nuts in my heart.

Cranberry Fudge Bars_2

Okay, back to the bars. Do you prefer brownies or blondies? If we were looking at the baked variety I’d always be team brownie. But with these no-bake slices I’ve found I slightly prefer the blonde version. It’s the same with bars: dried fruit mixed with cocoa simply isn’t my favourite. Not bad enough to skip out on the brownies but … And really: who can resist dates mixed with peanut butter? It’s such a good combination. Studding this base with the diamond-like-looking cranberries and adding a rich and creamy chocolate topping takes the deliciousness to another level.  Peanut butter and jelly isn’t a classic over here but I’ll make it one for those around me – with these bars. Family-approved, colleague-approved and, well, unsurprisingly approved by my stomach, too. PB & J, you’re here to stay.

Cranberry Fudge Bars_1

The cranberries might not be a typical PB & J add-in but they really add a little something-something to the soft & salty peanut butter-y base and amazingly rich and creamy fudge topping. Feel free to use dried cherries in their place for a more authentic taste but I’ll say you’re missing out. A little ;).

No-bake Cranberry Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Blondies

100 g soft dates
130 g roasted + salted peanuts
1/4 cup [30 g] of dried cranberries

100 g dark chocolate [70 % cocoa or higher]**
1/2 cup of full-fat coconut milk OR full-fat non-dairy creamer [I used soy]

  1. Place peanuts in a high-speed blender or food processor. Pulse until ground to your preference – either finely ground and flour-like or with a few more roughly chopped pieces for texture*. Remove from the blender and set aside.
  2. Process dates until finely chopped/close to paste-like. Remove from food processor.
  3. Add nut meal back to the food processor, turn it on and slowly add the date mixture bit by bit, processing until a thick dough forms. You might want to stop in between, pushing the dates sticking to the sides of the blender/food processor into the blades and stop in between to prevent overheating.
  4. Firmly press the nut and date mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan. Press the dried cranberries firmly into the blondie base and put into the fridge to harden [it will be very sticky and soft].
  5. While the base is chilling in the fridge, prepare your ganache layer. Finely chop the chocolate bar and set aside.
  6. Bring the coconut milk/non-dairy cream to a boil either on the stove or in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate and (!!!) let sit for three minutes. Do NOT stir before.
  7. Stir to fully combine all fudge ingredients. Top the chilled base with ganache and refridgerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting into it.

Notes:

*As the roasted peanuts tend to turn into nut butter faster than other nuts you have to be careful not to overblend.

**use sugar-free or stevia-sweetened for a refined sugar-free version.

 

I’m linking up with Allergy Free Wednesdays#RecipeOfTheWeek,#StrangeButGoodGluten-Free Fridays,Tasty Tuesdays,Healthy Vegan Fridays.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Still getting to enjoy some sunshine after work.

 

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Blondies or brownies?
 Do you have any food allergies?

No-bake Chocolate Orange Fudge Blondies

Packied with fresh and zesty orange flavour in both the crust and rich fudge frosting these No-bake Chocolate Orange Fudge Blondies offer you a taste of summer in every bite. With only seven ingredients, vegan, paleo, naturally gluten- and optionally refined sugar-free they are a healthy dessert or snack option.

Chocolate Orange Slice

 

Before we get into today’s recipe for these absolutely delicious, summery and mum/dad/colleague-approved No-Bake Chocolate Orange Fudge Blondies I want to share some thoughts on my mind. About just that topic: approval.

Feed them to the neighbour’s chicken.

The above was my mum’s comment on these bars. Ouch. And I was this close to writing the recipe off as a fail though I thought they were really good. What made me redecide? Reminding myself that a) [food] preferences differ and b) my mum is a pretty tough critic. Boy am I glad I didn’t let her words get me down – though the chicken might have been pleased ;). Because my colleagues very much enjoyed the bars, one even saying that if she ever got married she wanted these and these. [I’m actually bad at accepting compliments but that’s a topic for another day.]

Shouldn’t I/we trust our own judgement when it comesto deciding which recipes to share on -our- blogs? I wish I could say I no longer depended on other people’s opinion at all but that’s not entirely true. Compliments are balm for our  [occasionally insecure] souls. Knowing you met somebody’s taste with a homemade treat just feels good. Where I’m getting here? Asking for others’ opinion isn’t always bad unless we can’t make a single decision ourselves anymore without getting somebody else’s approval. That just takes the fun and freedom out of life.

Chocolate Orange Slice_2

Okay, onto the food now. You know how they say ‘When the cake works, bake it in every flavour’? Shoes? You’re saying that was about shoes? Nah. That’s not my kind of business [though dresses are a wholly different story …]. But: cake. Or blondies. No-bake blondies. That is my business. And after the huge success of these brownies in my family it was only natural to adapt them in a different way. A fresher, fruity way. Don’t make me play favourites but oh my … these are good.

With only seven ingredients these are even simpler than the No-bake Chocolate Fudge Brownies. Thanks to the fact the base has some more texture i.e. crunch rather than being very smooth you might not even need a high-speed blender. I preferred it this way but grinding the nuts for longer and in a flour-like consistency would give you just that, too, if that’s how you like your brownies/blondies.

Oh and talking about approval: these blondies got my dad’s which probably is even harder to get than my mum’s – if that’s even possible. Shockingly, even I – remember what I said about that? – liked the crust on its own a LOT. I could totally eat it on its own but sssh: don’t tell the chocolate fudge. But you really shouldn’t make just one part because, well, you don’t just wear a single shoe, right? Some things are simply better together.

Chocolate Orange Slice_5

No-bake Chocolate Orange Fudge Blondies

100 g soft dates
1-2 tbsps of coconut butter [optional but ]

100 g raw cashews
20 g unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp of of orange zest, at best freshly grated from one organic orange

100 g dark chocolate [70 % cocoa or higher]**
1/2 cup of full-fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp of orange zest

  1. Place cashews in a food processor or high-powered blender or food processor. Pulse until ground to your preference – either finely ground and flour-like or with a few more roughly chopped pieces for texture. Remove from the blender and mix in orange zest. Set aside.
  2. Process dates in the food processor until finely chopped/close to paste-like. Remove from food processor.
  3. Add nut meal back to the food processor, turn it on and slowly add the date mixture bit by bit, processing until a thick dough forms. You might want to stop in between, pushing the dates sticking to the sides of the blender/food processor into the blades and to prevent overheating.
  4. Firmly press the nut and date mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan and put into the fridge to harden [it will be very sticky and soft].
  5. While the base is chilling in the fridge, prepare your ganache layer. Finely chop the chocolate bar and set aside.
  6. Add the other 1/2 a tsp of orange zest to the coconut milk and bring it to a boil either on the stove or in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate and (!!!) let sit for three minutes. Do NOT stir before.
  7. Stir to fully combine all fudge ingredients. Top the chilled base with ganache and refridgerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting into it.

Notes:

**use sugar-free or steva-sweetened for a refined sugar-free version.

Chocolate Orange Slice_4

I’m linking up with Allergy Free Wednesdays#RecipeOfTheWeek,#StrangeButGoodGluten-Free Fridays,Tasty Tuesdays,Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meatless Mondays.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Seeing a person I love laugh. Nothing is more contagious than genuine laughter.

 

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How much do you rely on others’ opinon – be it in terms of cooking, blogging, fashion …?

No-bake Vegan Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Naughty and nice: A healthy raw brownie base is taken to the next level with a luscious dairy-free chocolate fudge topping. Vegan, paleo, gluten-free and easily made sugar-free won’t be able to stop at just one.

No-bake fudge brownie close-up2

Hot stuff*.

That’s what my mum called these brownies. If there’s one surefire way to know I created a winning recipe it’s my mum shouting her approval to the rooftops. My mum? More like: my hardest critic. The woman who has never in her life counted calories, openly shows her fondness of full-fat products and daily dessert [that one’s quite refreshing for somebody struggling with food], – and has no hesitation to tell me something I prepared sucks doesn’t get her approval. Yet on her birthday this past Sunday she insisted on offering everybody a slice of these brownies even though she’d baked a stunning cream cake herself. For once, though, I was hesitant to share them until I’d taken good enough pictures. I’ve been wary of that since the unfortunate incident recently. Better safe than sorry.

* She literally said “heiße Teilchen” but for those of you not speaking German hot stuff is the closest translation.

 

No-bake fudge brownies_close-up

Onto the food because I’m way too excited about this recipe: Do you like raw brownies? The mere fact you’re reading this isn’t necessarily saying anything. Because – shocking as it might seem [unless you read this post] – I actually don’t care about them much. Say what?! Yes. Don’t get me wrong: the base is delicious and I ate my share of “dough” plus my taste testers gave it their thumbs up. To meet my brownie standards, though, they required some more sophisticated chocolate action. Hence why I added the fudgy ganache layer here. Don’t you dare skipping it! Think about these as the brownie epitome of the 80/20 rule*: a nutritious base of nuts, dates and cocoa with an indulgent creamy and rich chocolate topping that’s still healthier than your average frosting.

*though you’ll notice my first batch – spread in a small tin – makes them look more like the 50/50 rule 😉

Whereas many raw brownies recipe call for walnuts, pecans or almonds when I think of this particular baked good hazelnuts come to my mind. Walnuts and pecans? My least favourite nuts unless candied and part of this particular ice cream my grandma often buys for family gatherings. Almonds? Fair enough but not quite there yet. Hazelnuts? Cocoa’s best friend. I’d call it the Nutella logic [the fact this spread contains a hilariously small amount of nuts aside]. Their deep, ever so slightly bitter and dark taste complements any chocolatey baked good perfectly. I adapted the brownie base from the truly genius Dana.

No-bake brownie_fudge 2

Usually, recipes like this packed with energy-dense ingredients come with the disclaimer that – don’
t worry – you’ll feel satisfied after just one. I’m afraid I can’t make any such claims because not a single person I served these wanted to stop after only one. They are satisfying – but also addictive. But yes, lots of nutritious ingredients you can feel good about eating.

No-bake Chocolate Fudge Brownies

  • ½ cup [60 g] whole hazelnuts
  • ½ cup whole almonds
  • 1 ¼ cups dates* [~ 210 g]
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp extra dark cocoa
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Optional: salted peanuts [cashews for paleo version]

For the ganache

  • 1 3.5-oz bar of dark chocolate**
  • ¼ cup of full-fat coconut milk [shake your can well!]

 

  1. Place hazelnuts and almonds in a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse until finely ground, resembling flour. Transfer the ground nuts to a bowl, stir in cocoa and sea salt.
  2. Process dates in the food processor until finely chopped/close to paste-like. Remove from food processor.
  3. Add nut meal back to the food processor, turn it on and slowly add the date mixture bit by bit, processing until a thick dough forms. You might want to stop in between, pushing the dates sticking to the sides of the blender/food processor into the blades and to prevent overheating.
  4. Press the nut and date mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan and put into the fridge to harden [it will be very sticky and soft]. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts if using.
  5. While the base is chilling in the fridge, prepare your ganache layer. Finely chop the chocolate bar and set aside.
  6. Bring the coconut milk to a boil either on the stove or in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate and (!!!) let sit for three minutes. Do NOT stir. No matter how impatient you are it’s crucial you don’t stir it earlier – or you’ll regret it, trust me.
  7. Stir to fully combine all fudge ingredients. Top the chilled brownie base with ganache and refridgerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting into it.

Notes:

* These don’t have to be Medjool – just buy those labeled soft dates [I gather Trader Joe’s should carry them]

** Use unsweetened if you want to keep this refined sugar-free. I’d recommend adding some stevia to taste to the coconut milk before heating to ensure the ganache isn’t too bitter or use a stevia-sweetened bar/chocolate chips.

 

No-bake brownies_3

I’m linking up with Allergy Free Wednesdays#RecipeOfTheWeek,#StrangeButGoodGluten-Free Fridays,Tasty Tuesdays,Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meatless Mondays.

There’s so much more I could say about these but I’ll just go with: you need these in your life. A big statement? Well, they’re hot stuff after all ;).

Happiness-inducing today: Walking home from work as the weather finally decided to give us a break from rain and cold temperatures.

 

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Random question: what is the price for a 7-oz bag of hazelnuts respectively almonds where you live? I was admittedly a little shocked when I saw how much they cost these days. Totally worth it obviously.