No-Bake Dark Chocolate Coconut Chia Bars
I think August might be melting my brain a little bit.
Physically, I am doing just fine. Heat, in fact, is a dancer’s best friend. Loosening up the joints and oozing through articulations, it glistens on the muscles as they fire up to launch through space. I feel constantly available to move and react, which was the perfect state to be in during the intensive workshops I took in Madrid a couple weeks ago. My body soaked everything in with warm, welcoming ease and all of the physical information seems to have fallen nicely into place as muscle-memory.
Now that I am home, however, it is back to the work of self-propelled momentum. Dance and choreography are streaming out, which is wonderful, but when I sit down to try to write? Nada. My thoughts are scattered and bouncing from one place to another. I had four different documents open of topics started and stopped before finally deciding to just describe the process itself. This is where I am. And this is what happens when one’s work is diversified. There is a time for writing and analyzing and a time for moving and feeling. Heat tends to make me mentally more sluggish and lethargic, so it only makes sense that my physical self is picking up the slack.
I recently read an article titled The Alternative to Thinking All the Time (which is worth a read), where the author writes “Usually we fail to give our experience much attention, because our thoughts take it all.” When my brain tries to take over in the heat, I start to panic about feeling like a stifled, sweaty, hot mess. If I can let that over-analyzation go, my body simply experiences and enjoys all of its possibilities.
This became clear to me during one workshop in particular in Madrid that started at 8pm, unnaturally late for a dance class. Usually I would arrive having already walked around the city all afternoon, over-heated, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. My brain would immediately tell me “you can’t do this- just take a break,” but once the class actually began, I became wrapped up in the experience of movement and heat and momentum and was swept away into my love of dancing.
So, instead of trying to fight the heat this month (because Tangier is getting hot), I have decided to embrace it and allow the analytical part of my brain to slide to the side a bit. Maybe I won’t be writing quite as much as usual, but I will be trying to experience more.
Because of this current physical state, my body has also been craving different kinds of foods. Meals that are crisper and more fresh in flavor and aroma, raw veggies, lots of herbs, light sauces and minimal preparation. Even baking is sounding less appealing- I am more drawn towards desserts and sweets that can be chilled and provide fueling energy for all of the physical work I have been doing lately. I saw a recipe for these blueberry no-bake bars and was inspired to make my own kind of raw-ish sweet treat.
These decadent bars may be triple-layered, but I promise each layer is quick + simple to come together and ends up tasting like a kind of coconut chocolate ice-cream bar, with lovely crumbly, creamy + crunchy textures. It is currently taking all of my willpower not to eat the entire pan. This is the kind of dessert that will (hopefully) leave you feeling more physically energized as opposed to knocking you back into a lump on the couch, but tastes completely rich and indulgent. So embrace the heat, make yourself a treat, and enjoy every sweltering moment of this final summer month.
No-Bake Dark Chocolate Coconut Chia Bars
Makes 12-16 bars, gluten-free + vegan
For the Dark chocolate base Layer
- 1 1/4 cup (150g) rolled oats (gluten-free if necessary)
- 10 medium-large dates, pitted + soaked in warm water
- 1/4 cup (30g) raw cacao powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- pinch of salt
For the Coconut Chia Cream
- 1 can of full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 150g dark chocolate
- 1 tsp coconut oil
Line an 8x8" or 9x9" square baking pan (thickness of the bars will vary) with parchment paper.
To make the base, pulse the oats in a food processor until they turn into a fine flour. Drain the water from the dates and add them to the oats, blending until fully combined. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until a sticky yet crumbly dough forms. Turn the mixture out into your prepared pan and press it firmly and evenly across the bottom, making sure to get it all the way to the corners. Place in the fridge the stay cool while you make the next layer.
For the coconut chia cream, the coconut milk should have separated into a thick cream on top and liquid at the bottom while chilling overnight. Carefully scoop out the cream into a mixing bowl, avoiding any water at the bottom. Using an electric mixer, whisk the cream until fluffy and a little bit stiff, like a soft meringue. Whisk in the maple syrup, then carefully fold in the chia seeds. Immediately take your base layer out of the fridge and spread the coconut cream on top, lightly and evenly. Place back into the fridge to keep cool.
To make the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in the microwave or in a double boiler until smooth. Let cool to warm-room temperature before using a spatula to spread on top of the bars. Place them back into the fridge to set for another 10-15 minutes or so. Once the topping has hardened, remove from the fridge and carefully cut into bars, using a sharp knife to avoid cracking the chocolate. Keep them chilled until ready to eat.