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7 Ingredient, Vegan, Nut Butter Hemp Bars

These are so easy to whip up – no special equipment, basically just combine and freeze! This is also our fav recipe we’ve made to date! We made a batch to take up to friends in London, they didn’t last long!

Gorgeous pic and recipe adapted from the lovely Jade from Panaceas Pantry. Jade’s recipes use natural ingredients, are thoughtful and always DELICIOUS. Def recommend giving her a follow!

Store your bars in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. (Perfect premade snack for busy folk! )

Ingredients

375g (1 jar) smooth, drippy peanut butter (or whatever nut butter you feel inspired to use). If your nut butter is stiff your bars will be dry. You can compensate by adding in extra oil.

105g (1/2 cup) virgin coconut oil

75–100g (1/4-1/3 cup) pure maple syrup or honey or agave

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g (1 cup) plant based protein powder in plain or 100g ground oats (which we used)

85g (1/2 cup) hemp hearts

100g prechopped cacao, divided

1 Tbsp peanut butter (reserve)

Method

1. Line a small tin with baking paper and set aside.

2. To a bowl, add drippy peanut butter to bowl and add melted coconut oil.

3.. Add your sweetener of choice (maple syrup, honey or agave).

4. Add vanilla, protein powder (or ground oats) and hemp seeds and combine until completely uniform, thick and smooth.

5. Add chopped cacao and fold through.

6. Pour batter into your lined tray. It will be thick and heavy, so use a spoon to spread it around into an even bar. Set aside.

7. Add the remaining cacao and reserved 1 Tbsp peanut butter to a heat proof bowl. Melt via double boiler method. Once melted, pour on top of batter and spread to evenly cover.

8. Place your nut butter hemp bars in the fridge for 2+ hours to set.

9. Cut into desired serves AND ENJOY!

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Fermentation

There’s a lot of hype about the different types of cacao beans (similar to the same sort of hype in the coffee biz). Bean type has a significant impact on taste for sure, but perhaps the most important part in developing flavour is actually in the post-harvest fermentation process.

(Ever noticed that some of the most delicious and simultaneously healthy food stuffs are naturally fermented? Kombucha, kimchi, miso, kefir yoghurt… I digress).

The cacao beans are harvested, removed from the colourful pod and then are naturally fermented. The fermentation of the beans is critical as it triggers the chemical changes that develop the unique chocolatey aroma & flavour that we know and love. Without fermentation cacao can be quite bitter and astringent.

The fermentation process takes approx  5-7 days (depending on the process adopted by the artisan, the environment and the particular batch). It’s a labour intensive process, a lot of love & care is required at this stage to ensure that the beans ferment just right. Just by way of comparison, I tried to make sauerkraut last year and even tending to my small jar was pretty labour intensive – daily pressing to ensure the cabbage is submerged under the brine just right, getting the seasonings just so… let’s just say I’ve decided to support local sauerkraut producers from now on.

Some big companies don’t even both with fermentation. For them, profit margins are the key driver and the fermentation process is expensive, so they mask the missing flavour profile by subjecting the cacao to heavy roasting and then add a whole bunch of artificial preservatives, vegetable oils, flavours and sugar.

Cheap and nasty isn’t our thing. We’ve been super selective and only partnered with farmers who grow and process their cacao to the highest quality – this includes having a legit and well managed fermentation process. It’s such a different buzz connecting to a food that’s been crafted as a labour of love as opposed to a commodity produced to make shareholders money.

Thanks again to Ubud Raw for the gorgeous picture. These guys are fermentation experts and we are so happy to partner with them.