Ok, so maybe summer isn’t over?!?

Seriously, Melbourne..?

It’s March. In this part of the world, that should mean Autumn – cooler days, crisp air and beautiful colours on the trees. But, of course, Melbourne is unique in that it pays no mind to what people expect.

So, this week turned out to be hot, humid and oppressive – not my favourite climate to say the least! And when it’s this hot, cooking and eating is generally the last thing I want to do. Actually, I always want to cook and eat – it’s just more of a task than usual. Hot ovens, a four-burner stove and bubbling pans are not a girl’s best friend when the temperature is already set to ‘sweltering’.

*Of course, as soon as I wrote this, the rain came and now it’s beautifully cool and cloudy. So thanks Melbourne – I knew you’d come through with the goods!*

So to satisfy my innate need to cook something no matter what, I dove head-first into a cool and fresh mint slice recipe that required minimal oven time and maximum fridge time. PERFECT!

Since ‘quitting’ sugar three years ago, I have to admit I do miss a good old Arnott’s Mint Slice biscuit. IMHO, mint and chocolate are the best of friends – soul mates, in fact. And I loved the texture of the soft mint filling, surrounded by the crisp chocolate coating all on a chocolate biscuit base. Heaven in a mouthful!

You can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across this delicious recipe on the Bare Blends website last week – a raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free answer to my choc-mint prayers!

However, I find I don’t enjoy a lot of raw dessert recipes because they tend to lack variation in texture and often the flavours are hard to distinguish from one another in a layered cake or slice*. So, I experimented a bit and decided that the base was crying out to be baked. Yep, that’s right – in the oven (I can hear the silent screams of the macro-nutrients in my dreams. But it’s totally worth it).

Please keep in mind I have only made this once (again, my AWW triple-test kitchen assistant was off for the day) so really this is all a bit of a guide. If in doubt (and you don’t mind a purely raw desserty treat) please click on the link above and follow the original recipe. I promise I won’t be offended.

HEART

* This is just a personal opinion and not meant to offend lovers and creators of raw desserts.

Choc-Mint Slice

Ingredients:

Biscuit layer:

1/3 cup protein powder (possibly redundant as the base is baked but it’s part of the original ‘raw’ recipe. I would suggest almond meal as a simple substitute but can’t guarantee success as I haven’t tried it myself)

1/3 cup raw cacao (or good quality cocoa powder)

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped

1/3 cup buckwheat flour, plus extra just in case

1/3 cup coconut oil, softened

1/3 cup almond milk (I use Nutty Bruce Activated Almond Milk)

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

2 tbsp rice malt syrup

Mint layer:

2 cups cashews, soaked for 6 hours or overnight and drained

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 cup full-cream coconut milk (no low-fat here!!!)

1/4 cup coconut oil, softened

2 tbsp rice malt syrup (or maple syrup if you prefer)

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pinch of good quality salt

2 tsp peppermint extract (the better the quality, the better the flavour) – I LOVE mint, so if you think this may be too much for you, just use 1 teaspoon and add more to taste.

Chocolate layer:

1/2 cup raw cacao butter, chopped or grated

2-3 tbsp rice malt syrup (or maple syrup if you prefer)

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

2-3 tbsp coconut cream

pinch of good quality salt

1 tsp peppermint extract, optional if you love mint like I do!

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

Throw all the ingredients for the biscuit layer into a bowl and mix to combine into a dough. If it’s too wet, add a little more buckwheat flour. Press the dough into a lined baking tin (I used a square 20x20cm tin) and bake for around 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool (if you’re impatient like me, stick it in the freezer).

Meanwhile, pop your cashews into a food processor and blend until a thick paste has formed. Add in the almond milk and rice malt syrup and continue to blend for another 3-5 minutes until the paste is smooth and creamy. Throw in the rest of the ingredients and blend for another minute or so until everything is combined.

Pour the cashew mint layer over the cooled biscuit base and spread evenly. Place into the fridge for around 30 mins or until firm. You can speed up this process by popping it into the freezer instead if you like (can you see a pattern here…)

Now, for the delicious raw chocolate layer – YUM!

Pop the raw cacao butter into a heavy-based saucepan and melt over a low heat. Then add rice malt syrup, whisk to combine. Take the pan off the heat and add in the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly until you get a lovely smooth consistency. Allow to cool for a few minutes then pour over the set cashew mint layer, working quickly as the chocolate can set quite once it hits the cooler surface. Spread evenly and pop into the fridge to set (no need for the freezer here folks – the chocolate will set within 15-20 minutes in the fridge. Plus, I personally don’t enjoy the texture of raw chocolate out of the freezer. So this will give you enough time to do the dishes and make a cup of tea).

Cut the slice into squares (or your preferred shape) and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Good luck getting it to last that long though!

I should mention that if you don’t want to invest in the raw cacao butter etc, you can just pick up a really good quality dark chocolate (something like 85% Lindt or Green & Black’s) and melt it in a double-boiler to pour over the cashew mint layer. Still just as yum!!