Chocolate-Nut Bars

In some circles, these are known as "raw brownies." If you have eaten real brownies (the baked chocolate-sugar-egg versions), you will be surprised, and probably disappointed, when you take a bite. However, if you look at these as a "chocolate-nut bar" or a "chocolate-nut dessert", you will be perfectly happy with them. Children even eat them. Just don't call them a "brownie" and try to fool people. As an added benefit, these are very filling and it doesn't take more than a small piece to satisfy someone.
Chocolate-Nut Bars (a.k.a. raw brownies)
1-1/2 cups nuts (pecans or hazelnuts are nice), toasted if desired
1/2 cup cacao powder (unsweetened chocolate powder)
1/3 cup, dried, unsweetened coconut
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon, optional
1 tsp. vanilla, optional
2 cups dates, pitted (if the dates are hard and dry, soak them in hot water for 15+ minutes)
1-2 Tb. water or honey

Toast the nuts, if you want a nicer flavor. (Raw foodists would never do this, but it makes the nuts taste much better and deepens their flavor.) You can bake the nuts at 350, put them in a toaster oven, or stir them in a non-stick skillet on the stove until slightly browned. Be careful not to burn them.

Blend nuts, chocolate, coconut, and optional spices in a food processor until finely ground. The mix will start to turn into a nut butter. Add the dates (in smaller batches, if your food processor isn't an industrial-strength one) and process until smooth. Add water or honey, if the mixture is too crumbly. When you are finished blending, you should not see any recognizable date or nut or coconut pieces. The mix should be a dark, smooth, chocolate mass.

Press the mixture into an 8x8-inch pan. Sprinkle the top with extra toasted coconut and nuts, if desired, and press the topping into the nut bars. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Cut into small squares and serve. Makes about 16 servings.

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