I love the challenge of making sweet whole food treats for special occasions- pairing flavors and textures from rich, earthy ingredients and whisking them into something extraordinary. Usually my dessert projects contain the sweet satisfying crunch of nuts, are laced with delicate slivers of dehydrated coconut or come drenched in sultry dark chocolate or carob sauce. But this week I wondered, what would happen if I put all of these unique and sophisticated flavors together? Much to my delight, a rich and healthful coconut butter cup came to be! Not only do these alluring bars look downright impressive, but they contain only ingredients you can recognize and also taste divine- even to those who are leery of anything that doesn’t include a pile of sugar and have a brand name smacked on the box.
I will admit, sometimes I spend hours in the kitchen chopping and prepping, leaving guilty chocolate fingerprints on the counters, and a pile of dishes in the sink, only to present a wimpy final product that looks something like a dessert...but doesn’t taste much like one. Friends will call only to be interrupted by the clatter of pans in the background or a bang as the phone slips from my shoulder onto the floor. Often they sarcastically quip “so what kind of mess are you making today?” I’ve also had my share of failed attempts to sneak whole food desserts into parties without anyone noticing that they are not the “real” processed thing (a total oxymoron if you ask me). It’s true that some goodies are best left untouched by those of us with nutrient-density on the mind, and that a palate accustomed to intense sweeteners and artificial flavors may have a hard time adjusting to the more genuine complexities of whole foods. However, every once in a while a recipe surfaces that is irresistible on all accounts. These bars certainly make that list. Made with just 6 ingredients, they are rich with satisfying healthy fats, minerals, and fiber with a bit of protein-rich nut butter to top it all off. The one downside is that these coconut bars are best eaten refrigerated or frozen- so they are not the type of thing you can throw in your bag for an easy nibble later. But, this is probably a good thing anyway, as they are best indulged in sparingly- else you may feel impulsed to gobble up an entire delicious pan of them before you even realize what you are doing.
Organic Coconut Butter Cups
Ingredients for filling:
1/4 cup cold pressed coconut oil
3/4 cup coconut spread
1 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup raw honey or maple syrup
about 1/4 cup sprouted nut butter
Ingredients for chocolate glaze:
1 bag (10-12oz) dark chocolate chips
*If you don't have chocolate chips on hand, you can make a DIY chocolate glaze using coconut oil, cocoa powder and a sweetener. You can find that recipe here.
In a saucepan, heat coconut oil and coconut spread on medium-low heat until melted. Stir to combine. Pour into a food processor or high power blender with coconut flakes and maple syrup. Process until relatively smooth.
Press a thin layer of your nut butter of choice into the bottoms of a 12 cup muffin pan. Spoon the coconut mixture into each of the muffin cups, layering over the nut filling and pressing down as needed to cover evenly and completely.
Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until solid. In the meantime, prepare your chocolate glaze by heating chocolate chips in a small saucepan on the stove or in a double boiler. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
When you are ready, remove the pan with the coconut fillings from the freezer. Working a knife around the edges, gently guide each disk out from the individual muffin cups and place to the side.
Add a few spoonfulls of chocolate into the bottom of each muffin cup. Place fillings on top, pressing gently so that they are immersed on the sides.
Drizzle the remaining chocolate over the tops of the bars and return to the freezer.
Keep refrigerated or frozen until ready to serve. Cut into halves or quarters and enjoy!