Friday, 2 August 2013

Dairy free, gluten free 'Candy bars'

Uh oh. Stomach pains are never good, so off the the doctor I went. Everything super bad ruled out. Current thinking is IBS triggered by excess dairy or maybe even a mild lactose intolerence.

I was not impressed. I appreciate many people live with this but it would mean a HUGE change in my baking habits. Then a glimmer of hope, I only have to give lactose up for two weeks to see if my symptoms completely disappear. After that I should be allowed a small amount (phew chocolate stays!), I reckon I can still bake the way I always did with maybe a few tweaks along the way.

However that does not help me for the coming weeks, no butter, milk, yoghurt, cream, sour cream, creme fraiche, caramel, chocolate, cheese etc.

I do have cake recipes that are oil based instead of dairy so that is a good option for cake. Its a little tricky should I want any sort of luscious creamy frosting. I reckon I could make a brownie that contained no butter too. What about biscuits? I am not a fan of margarine and have never made a biscuit with oil, research and experimentation required I think.

I actually decided I wanted some sort of nutty chocolate fix and stumbled across these 'Candy Bars' from Gwyneth Paltrow's book 'Its all good'. In a quick aside this book has received some stick, and while I do not think elimination diets and detoxes are necessary, and if I ignore some of the waffle about food we are 'all' allergic to, it actually has fantastic recipes, that are healthy, packed full of goodness and more importantly all the ones I have tried are packed full of flavour and super delicious.

Sorry for the waffle, back to the 'Candy Bars', they are not a candy bar in the traditional sense, these are no snickers, but they do taste fantastic. Nuts, maple syrup, sticky dates, and intense dark chocolate are a winning combination in my book!

Candy Bars (Gwyneth Paltrow, its all good)

200g plain cashews
240g dates, weighed without stones, roughly chopped
50g desiccated coconut
170g almond butter (If you cannot find almond butter this could work with peanut butter too)
125ml maple syrup
100g dark chocolate (I used green & blacks)

Line a small traybake tin with baking paper.

Put the cashews in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the dates, coconut, almond butter and maple syrup. Pulse until the mixture is combined and forms a ball of sticky dough. 

Transfer this dough to your prepared tin, press into all the corners and level with your hands. Slightly damp hands will stop the mixture sticking to you.

Put in the fridge for 5-6 hours to set. Once set gently melt the chocolate, pour on top, and gently spread out with a spatula to cover the whole surface. Put back into the fridge for and hour before cutting into bars and devouring. 

update: perhaps cut them before the chocolate has completely set otherwise it cracks

Keep in the fridge, they will keep for up to two weeks.

I think these taste really really good, they have texture, are just sweet enough and the dark chocolate gives a sophisticated edge.

Gwyneth says that they can also be stored in the freezer. I like them this way best but Mark likes them from the fridge. The chocolate from the freezer and the chew from the bar reminds me a little bit of a choc ice!


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