Drop everything and run to the kitchen: these chocolate hazelnut bars are sinful-rich with dark chocolate and crunchy with hazelnuts. They have a filling as luscious as a cheesecake and a cookie crust that is to-die-for, made entirely in a food processor with only good-for-you ingredients.
Stop everything: these luscious hazelnut chocolate bars are raw, vegan, paleo, gluten-free & Passover-friendly.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And throughout it all, there were chocolate hazelnut bars.
I developed this recipe for two very different Passover celebrations. One, replete with kid-friendly dishes and children's laughter but seemingly devoid of joy. The other, geared toward adults, was filled with various dishes but little in the way of healthy desserts.
This simple gluten free no-bake chocolate dessert is healthy, raw and vegan. It is full of flavor with roasted hazelnuts, and a filling of unsweetened dark chocolate and luscious cashews. The base contains sweet Medjool dates and dessicated coconut for a crunchy cookie base. The result is a cross between a cookie and a cheesecake, with tons of rich chocolate and nutty flavor.
I am surrounded by the din of children screaming. Kind, usually polite kids are running around the swamp-coloured room hopped up on sugar and excitement, their unnaturally distorted features illuminated by the sharp light of fluorescent lamps. Adults constantly interrupt their conversations to pick up an infant, calm down a crying toddler or swaddle a baby.
As I sit there, chewing on a salad that is in itself worthy of being a conversation a piece but, in the midst of this din, is all but forgotten, my mind drifts to one simple conclusion: if there is a hell, this must be what if feels like.
It is my first Passover night this year.
In a gathering intended to facilitate avid discussion and illuminated insight, we spent our time avoiding difficult questions and refusing to see the personal bondages that hold us back.
Surrounded by other immigrants for whom these are the first years living away from home, I expected the meaning of Passover to be particularly acute. Instead, I watched adults eating pasta and pounding back beers in an effort to forget, for at least a moment, the ennui of everyday life.
When another guest brought a mile-high tiramisu cake to the table, its top crowned with curls of cream whose trains cascaded down the sides like waterfalls, I turned to my neighbour and asked in wonderment: "They made a kosher-for-Passover tiramisu cake?" (to be kosher for Passover, foods must be unleavened and otherwise free of wheat, except in the form of matza).
The response was a hearty laughter, picked up by nearly everyone at the table. Apparently, I was naive to assume that one's personal choices to keep kosher would be respected in communal dishes - even the potato gratin had bread crumbs covering its golden top, I was later informed.
As I tuck into the gluten-free, vegan, paleo chocolate hazelnut bars that I had worked so hard to keep free of any allergens, in respect of other guests' diets, I feel the familiar sting of tears threatening to come up my nose.
They are met with oohs and ahhs by those who care to try them, to abandon the familiar comfort of what is, by all evidence, a delicious tiramisu cake... But it barely registers.
We never even crack open the Haggadah.
I am seated at the end of a long table, lit by the soft glow of standing paper lamps. All around me people are singing, breaking their teeth through unfamiliar words in an ancient language.
Wine is everywhere: in our cups, on our plates and under the tablecloths.
My stomach is growling with hunger and my feet throb, swollen from hours spent chopping, stirring and measuring food for two dinners.
Yet my face is locked in an ear-splitting, honest, radiant smile that is emanating from the pits of my soul: this is everything that Passover is about.
Life, love, sadness and laughter. Discussion and introspection. Disagreement and befuddlement. Interaction.
It is all here, shared among 20 people who don't even speak the same three languages. Who have not all been through a significant move, or an earth-shattering loss, or life-altering passion. People who are all so different and some of whom don't even like each other very much.
Yet at this moment, we couldn't be closer or have more in common. Perhaps it is because we chose, for two hours, to put our hunger and want and weariness aside and come together in song, and talk, and yes - even prayer.
Or perhaps it is because it's the end of a Saturday, and none of us have kids to hug, or share our joy, or steal our precious free moments.
But I like to think it's because we choose to feel like this.
The appearance of chocolate hazelnut bars
When I bring out the gluten-free, vegan, no-bake paleo chocolate hazelnut bars that I had worked so hard to keep free of any allergens, in respect of other guests' diets, I feel the familiar sting of tears threatening to come up my nose.
But this time, the reason is entirely different.
The bars are eaten faster than we can boil tea, met with oohs and ahhs from grateful friends.
And as a tall blond Russian man takes out his guitar and the dark-haired curly Romanian girl sitting two seats down requests to hear an Israeli song she remembers from her childhood, while the neighbours begin to bang on our ceiling, my mind drifts to one simple conclusion: some experiences cut across cultures.
- raw almonds
- desiccated unsweetened coconut
- Medjool dates
- coconut oil
- unsweetened dark chocolate
- Pinch of sea salt
- raw cashews, soaked overnight
- unsweetened dark chocolate
- sea salt
- maple syrup - to keep these as paleo chocolate bars, you can also use 2-3 dates in the filling.
- coconut oil
- Non-dairy milk - I love using coconut milk here because of its rich, creamy texture. Oat milk will also work.
- Pinch of salt
- unsweetened dark chocolate (optional)
- coconut oil (optional)
- Raw hazelnuts
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
How to make these no-bake hazelnut chocolate bars
Toast the hazelnuts
Line a bar pan or a baking sheet with high sides with parchment paper.
Optional: Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast the hazelnuts in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and smell toasty. The skin should come off easily when rubbed with a towel. Let cool in room temperature.
Soak the cashews
Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Leave to soak for no less than an hour. Drain all the water completely, setting the cashews aside.
Make the gluten free cookie crust
Process all the crust ingredients in a food processor, until the mixture reaches a consistent texture that allows you to mold it into shapes. Proceed to gently press the mixture uniformly into the prepared baking pan.
Make the cashew cheesecake filling
Without washing the food processor, put all the filling ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until the mixture becomes smooth, which takes around 2 minutes. If the mixture appears too thin, gradually add one tablespoon of coconut oil at a time. In case the mixture is too thick, pour one tablespoon of non-dairy milk at a time. The filling should be melted and smooth, but also thick and luscious, like a cheesecake.
Afterward, taste the sweetness and add more maple syrup or dates, as per your preference.
Once done, pour the filling into the prepared baking pan on top of the cookie crust, and transfer to the fridge or freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes (it will take longer in the fridge - about 1 hour).
Make the chocolate topping (optional)
The next step is optional because it will stop this dessert from being raw.
Place a small bowl inside a saucepan filled halfway with water. Add remaining chocolate and coconut oil to bowl, and cook on very low heat until fully melted. Alternatively, you can also melt the chocolate and the coconut oil in the microwave in bursts of 30 seconds, until the mixture is fully melted and smooth.
Decorate the bars
Remove bars from the freezer or fridge. Drizzle the bars with melted chocolate (optional) and sprinkle chopped hazelnut pieces. Press on the hazelnut pieces very lightly so they don't just fall off the bars when they set.
Chill the assembled bars in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
Cut into squares, and serve chilled.
Leftover bars will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
You can also freeze them for later use. They will keep in the freezer for 6 months. To separate the bars in the freezer, use parchment paper or wax paper between the layers.
Hazelnut chocolate is undoubtedly delicious, but is it good for you? It depends on the type of chocolate you consume. Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa - as this recipe calls for - contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help improve heart health by reducing inflammation and promoting healthy blood flow. Hazelnuts are packed with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that help lower cholesterol, improve digestion, and boost brain function. When combined, hazelnut chocolate can be a tasty and nutritious treat in moderation.
No, these bars don't require any chocolate hazelnut spread (most common brand is Nutella), but they taste just like it, despite being made only with healthy ingredients!
Yes. The cookie crust is made entirely with gluten free ingredients like almonds, dates and coconut. The filling has no dairy or gluten in it, either.
You can use soft tofu in the filling, though it will be softer.
More Gluten Free Dessert Recipes
More Passover Recipes
See other Passover dishes At the Immigrant's Table:
Gluten Free Chocolate hazelnut bars (grain-free, vegan, raw, paleo)
- 2 cups cashews soaked
- 1 ounce unsweetened dark chocolate
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 TB maple syrup or 2-3 dates the dates will change the texture to being a little softer
- 2 TBs coconut oil
- Non-dairy milk as needed (coconut milk is best)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ounce unsweetened dark chocolate optional, makes the chocolate hazelnut bars not raw
- 1 TB coconut oil optional, makes the chocolate hazelnut bars not raw
- ½ cup Hazelnuts peeled, toasted and chopped
- Line a bar pan or a baking sheet with high sides with parchment paper.
- Optional: Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast the hazelnuts in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and smell toasty. The skin should come off easily when rubbed with a towel. Let cool in room temperature.
- Soak and cashews in a bowl for at least one hour. Drain thoroughly.
- In a food processor, grind all crust ingredients together until mixture holds together well and you can form it into shapes. Press evenly into your prepared baking pan.
- Add all filling ingredients to food processor and process until mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. If mixture is too runny, add more coconut oil, one tablespoon at a time. If mixture is too hard, add non-dairy milk, one tablespoon at a time. Taste for sweetness and add more maple syrup or dates, as desired. Pour filling into baking pan. Chill in freezer for at least 30 minutes.
- Place a small bowl inside a saucepan filled halfway with water. Add remaining chocolate and coconut oil to bowl, and cook on very low heat until fully melted.
- Remove bars from freezer. Drizzle bar mixture with melted chocolate and sprinkle chopped hazelnut pieces. Press on the hazelnut pieces very lightly so they don't just fall off the bars when they set.
- Chill in freezer for at least 1 hour. Cut into squares, and serve chilled - bars can be kept in the fridge.
Welcome to At The Immigrant's Table! I blend my immigrant roots with modern diets, crafting recipes that take you on a global kitchen adventure. As a food blogger and photographer, I'm dedicated to making international cuisine both healthy and accessible. Let's embark on a culinary journey that bridges cultures and introduces a world of flavors right into your home. Read more...