Raw Vegan Orange Chocolate Hazelnut Squares (Refined Oil, Sugar & Gluten free)

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Hazelnuts and Chocolate are a match made in Heaven, for sure! These bite-sized squares are perfect proof of their symbiotic relationship. Throw some freshly squeezed orange juice in to the mixture and you’ve got the most sensational dessert ever. I’ve always been a sucker for orange chocolate. I used to be obsessed with Terrys Chocolate Orange as a child. I remember eating a whole one to myself on more than one occasion! I think that the fruity flavouring masks the usually heavy texture of chocolate. For that reason, I’m a big fan of these chocolate orange squares.

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I had some spare hazelnuts lying around so I decided to use them – this was the end result! These raw squares are so quick and easy to create. All you need is one good-quality food processor. To tell you the truth, I don’t even rinse the food processor between the blending of each layer – this makes it an even faster recipe!

When I create recipes, I like to use ingredients which are easily accessible to the average person. I also like to keep the cost of such creations to an absolute minimum, without decreasing the overall quality of the dish. I opted for regular dates in this recipe, as they are widely accessible. Medjool dates often tend to be very expensive and over-priced. I do use them for recipes which require their signature caramel – like flavour, however – these squares do not. If you do opt for medjool dates in this recipe, there is no need to soak them. My dates were particularly dry – if your dates are vacuum sealed, they will more than likely be quite sticky and gooey. Do not soak the dates if they resemble this consistency. Soak your dry dates for at least 20 minutes.

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These are perfect energy boosting treats. They’re packed full of almonds, peanut butter and hazelnuts – therefore they are a great protein source, ideal for those of you who are on the go. They’re also a great alternative to many sugar-loaded snack bars etc. which are on the market today. These babies are refined sugar, oil and gluten free! Guilt free snacking at its finest. I find that cacao and cocoa work similar in this recipe. I opted for cocoa powder this time – but use whatever is available to you! You could also substitute maple syrup instead of agave syrup.

If you’re not a fan of orange chocolate – omit the orange juice and zest completely. You could also replace it with mint or lavender oil. I used quite a small baking tray in this instance. It made about 20 squares. Make sure that your tray is freezer safe, and line it well with baking paper. Enjoy!

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Yield: 20 small squares

Ingredients:

Bottom Layer:

  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 1 cup of raw, un-roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup of soaked dates (packed)
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp of agave syrup
  • 1 pinch of salt

Middle Layer:

  • 1/2 cup of soaked dates (packed)
  • 1 tbsp & 1 tsp of runny, smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 50 ml of hazelnut mylk

Top Layer:

  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup of dates (not soaked)
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp of agave syrup
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 130 ml of water

Method:

  • Soak 1 cup of dates for at least 20 minutes.
  • Line a freezer-safe dish or tray (about half the size of a regular baking tray) with baking paper.

Bottom Layer:

  • Blend all of the bottom layer ingredients together in a food processor until well combined.
  • Once the mixture sticks together when compressed, remove it from the processor and spread it onto your pre-lined baking tray.
  • Compress and flatten the mixture using your hands, ensuring that the biscuit layer is evenly spread across the whole tray and into each corner.
  • Place the baking tray with the bottom layer into the freezer while you prepare the next layer.

Middle layer:

  • Add all of the middle layer ingredients, besides from the hazelnut mylk, to the food processor and blend.
  • Once the dates become quite smooth, add the nut mylk.
  • Blend the mixture until it becomes a caramel spread (If it is too thick, add more nut mylk).
  • Remove the tray from the freezer and spread the caramel layer evenly over the biscuit (bottom) layer.
  • Return the tray to the freezer while preparing the final layer.

Top Layer:

  • Add all of the top layer ingredients, besides from the water and orange juice to the food processor, and blend.
  • Once the mixture becomes fairly smooth – add the water and orange juice.
  • Blend until the mixture is smooth and evenly combined.
  • Remove the tray from the freezer and spread the chocolate layer on top.
  • Return the tray to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  • Cut into squares once the mixture has hardened (use a wet knife for ease of cutting).
  • Return the squares to the freezer, or keep them in the fridge in an airtight container. Do not stack them on top of one-another.
  • Decorate with orange zest and a pinch of coarse sea salt.
  • Enjoy!

Final note:

  • I keep these squares in the freezer and allow them to defrost for 10 minutes before consuming – the top layer tastes really ice-cream like this way. They also retain their firmness when kept in the fridge.
  • Consume within 3-5 days.

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