Mint Chocolate Chip smoothies are one of my favorite breakfasts because they’re like starting the day off with a milkshake. I originally got the recipe from the Going Raw cookbook, but now I wing it when I make them–a little bit of mint, some banana, almond milk, a small handful of cacao nibs and maybe some unflavored protein powder too. Since mint leaves worked so well in smoothies, I thought I could make vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Dessert bars with them too, instead of using mint extract and food coloring.
I thought wrong. Terribly wrong. My bars tasted like creamy grass, with a hint of mint at the end. They were a Pyrex dish filled with disappointment and broken dreams. So I decided to enlist Meg’s help with this recipe. I gave her the idea, she made it better, then I tested it and made a few changes and now these bars are creamy, minty, chocolatey perfection.
When I emailed Meg about my bar conundrum, she mentioned that she was working on an experiment to make pistachio cream with raw pistachios. We agreed that would be perfect for this recipe because it would give the bars a hint of green without using food coloring. Since the mint leaves didn’t work out so well for me, Meg went ahead and used peppermint extract, which gives the bars a minty flavor without the leafy grassiness you sometimes get with actual mint leaves. The pistachio cream layer goes on top of a chewy chocolate crust made with dates, almonds, and cocoa powder, and then to make things extra delicious, we finish the whole thing with chocolate chips on top.
The thing I love about these creamy, nut-based vegan desserts is that they’re objectively good. Not “good for a vegan dessert” or “good for something made without dairy,” but just good good. If you were to serve them at a party, no one would give them a sideways glance or shake their fist at you for serving them hippie food. They’re a dessert that everyone can enjoy: vegans, non-vegans, young people, old people, mimes, centaurs, whatever. These Mint Chocolate Chip Bars are for all!
Creamy, minty vegan bars made with pistachios. Yes, pistachios!
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, soaked overnight then drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup cane sugar syrup (or sweetener of choice to taste)
- 3/4-1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life are gluten- and dairy-free)
- Line a 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper so that it overhangs on the sides like handles; set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade, combine the almonds, dates, and cocoa powder. Process until all of the ingredients are finely chopped; when you squeeze a small clump of the “dough” in your hands, it should stick together. This can take between 1-2 minutes depending on the size and strength of your machine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and gently press crust into the pan to form an even layer.
- Combine the pistachios, coconut oil, water, cane sugar syrup, and 3/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract in a high speed blender. Run the blender, stopping to scrape the sides if needed, until the mixture is completely smooth like cashew cream, adding more water a tablespoon or two at a time if it seems like your machine is straining. Taste the filling and blend in additional extract if needed. (If you add more water, you may need more extract!)
- When the mixture is completely smooth, pour the filling over the crust and spread into an even layer with a spatula. Pour the chocolate chips over the filling layer, gently pushing them into the pistachio cream so that they stay in place but are still visible.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil and place it in the freezer for about 8 hours or overnight until frozen solid. 15 minutes before you're ready to serve the bars, take the pan out of the freezer and let it sit at room temperature on the counter. To remove the bars from the pan, gently pull up on the parchment paper “handles” to release them. Slice into squares with a sharp knife and serve immediately. Store remaining bars in the freezer until ready to eat.
If you happen to have raw cashews on hand, I've tested this recipe with them and it works out perfectly.