This dark chocolate bark is my sweet dream of the moment. Gooey, caramel flavours, the warm toasty coconut and the tang of apricot wrapped in rich smooth home-made dark chocolate. It’s so good that I’ve had to hide it, from myself, as I got a bit carried away in the recipe creation. ‘I’ll just try it again to make sure it really is that good’ kind-of-thing! It is. It’s a goodness packed treat, luxurious and with substance too. Like a super naughty muesli bar.
Last year I went a bit over-board making, and particularly eating, home-made chocolate and chocolate sweets (oops!). I have a sweet tooth but I don’t make a lot of sweet things as they’re usually more acidic and I think savoury food, apart from fruit, is more healthy (especially for greedy ol’ me), so when I make something sweet I want it to really count. Medjool dates are perfect for this type of recipe, they’re like caramel, especially with the coconut sugar, they’re gooey and just MEGA YUM. I eat a lot of dates, I have them for hypo treatment and pudding, mostly cheaper chewy dates from my local health food shop, which are so good and taste of liquorice. Medjool dates give a lovely softness and natural sweetness that’s great for refined-sugar-free sweet treats.
Now for some serious link love for things I care about and was inspired by or uplifted by on the web. First of all I want to give a big THANK YOU to Victoria Wood, where ever she may be, as she died of cancer recently and I loved her so much. She was an inspirational woman in SO many ways, so brilliantly funny, and if you haven’t heard of her, and if you have, watch this sketch, the bit on the menstrual cycle just cracks me up. P.S. I wish I could have cooked her tofu she’d change her mind!! (I don’t eat it anymore but I used to a lot (Dan still does. Tofu is SO good Vic!)) ♥
Check out Sarah of Well and Full‘s nom-cast on gut health (note from future – link no longer works so have removed it! x), her first nom-cast (I feel like I need a lie down just thinking about doing that!) was just so good and packed full of the most important scientific info on how gut-health works. This is important for EVERYONE, and for me is especially interesting as, as well as already having Coeliac disease, I have recently been ‘diagnosed’ with IBS (apparently all people who have fybromyalgia have IBS and high-anxiety – great!). Learning about what an important part of the nervous system the gut is, and also the relationship between our microbiome and mental health, is just so important to know it really is. It seems as though there is nothing more important to nourish than our gut. Mine is especially poor, I get bug after bug and just cant seem to fight anything off. Stress impacts greatly on your gut health so I urge everyone to nourish your gut with food and with stress-busting activities too ♥
And so to bust the stress I listened to this song by the fabulous Deee-light, which has many a time been my go mental on the dance-floor groove ♥
I have really enjoyed the wonderful plant-based blog With Food + Love, and now I am a devotee. Check out Sherrie’s amazing Carrot Cake Energy Balls. As she mentions in this post Sherrie has recently spoke out about how she felt negatively about her weight in this post, check it out, and this was both brave and inspirational too. This is how SO MANY women (and men) feel, I have spent a lifetime of struggling to feel comfortable with myself and being just that bit too overweight and it is so much energy spent that could be spent getting fit, making the right food decisions, and feeling fab! Of course it’s not always that simple but it is the stress and sadness that pulls you down so often into over-eating and being unrealistic about it also. Check out my sustainable weight loss tips too. Go for it! AND… eat some chocolate!
I have just LOVED series 4 of Girls and am bereft it’s over, but was so meaningfully inspired by the brilliant ending. Lena Dunham is such a hugely talented writer and actress, I can’t wait to see what she does next and (selfishly) hope it’s not a series of amazing plays on Broadway.
And Prince, what can I say, thank you for a funky time sir! I never even realised he was a vegan! I’ve loved his music since I was little. Diamonds and Pearls was my first tape album (first tape the slightly less cool Take That ‘Could It Be Magic’, which really carbon dates me). I used to blast out Darling Nikki so loud, which makes me cringe now when I think of my parents, who never even swear. Check out Cream and ‘Money Don’t Matter 2 Night’, and Get Off, the soundtrack to my formative years. Well, that explains a lot about my personality disorder… where’s that chocolate???
- 7 heaped tbsp cocoa
- 3 tbsp mild coconut oil
- 4 tbsp coconut sugar
- 12 dried apricots
- 5 heaped tbsp coconut milk - canned, solid
- 6 medjool dates, or other gooey dates
- 3/4 cup coconut flakes
Toast the coconut flakes until browning, on a low heat being careful not to burn. Melt the coconut oil on a low heat, take off the heat as soon as is nearly all melted. Chop apricots into small pieces. Break medjjool date and mash with the cocoa, sugar and coconut milk. Add the oil. You can either add the flakes and apricot now and mix in, or last, I like to mix them in. Spoon the mixture onto the middle of one half of a generous sheet of grease-proof paper, fold the paper over, covering the mixture and roll with a rolling pin to the desired thickness, rolling up the sides of the paper to contain the chocolate and guide its shape. Refrigerate.
It's best to use fresher coconut that isn't too chewy. This chocolate bark is best eaten up as if left too long the coconut tends to become tougher. Alternatively, if you want it to keep and to give as a gift you can candy the coconut in coconut sugar and water (approx 1:3) for 5 mins or so bake on a low oven for 10 mins, and add the coconut brittle whilst reducing the amount of sweetness in the chocolate. I'm going to post a recipe using this coconut brittle soon! But I love the chewy substance of coconut and the freshness of its flavour combines beautifully with the apricot and dark chocolate, it's so good!