Recipe extract: Joan’s ‘chocolate clair’ bars

Joan's chocolate clair bars on plate

Heidi Sze is a mother, writer and dietitian, specialising in pre- and postnatal nutrition. She lives in Australia with her husband and two children. On her blog, Apples Under My Bed, Heidi writes about everyday life, reflections on motherhood and the recipes that nourish her family.

She’s just released her book, Nurturing Your New Life, which is full to the brim of calming approaches to the stresses of new motherhood, as well as healthy recipes to nourish mum and bub. We’re sharing a particularly delightful recipe, for Joan’s ‘chocolate clair’ bars, which you might enjoy.

Joan’s ‘chocolate clair’ bars

On especially tiring days, I’m grateful to have these bars in the fridge. Joan and I devoured batch after batch in the early weeks after Walt was born – each version slightly different. After the tenth batch, I asked Joan if she thought, as I did, that this was ‘the one’. ‘Yes!’ she said, ‘You should put it in your book.’ (Bless her heart, she says that about everything I make.)

I then asked her what she thought I should call the recipe, to which she replied, ‘Chocolate clair.’ It took me a few moments to figure out why she had chosen that particular name, as she doesn’t know anyone named Claire. Then I remembered we had recently read one of her favourite books, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch, in which the author makes reference to a chocolate éclair. Though these bars are a far cry from the French pastry, they do look somewhat similar – with their beige-coloured base and chocolate top. Regardless, I kept the name. It was just too cute to let go.

Makes about 15 bars

3/4 cup (115 g) cashews, plus extra if necessary

½ cup (80 g) unblanched almonds, plus extra if necessary

½ cup (50 g) rolled oats, plus extra if necessary

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons almond or cashew butter

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

a tiny pinch of sea salt

4 large Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped

3 tablespoons warm melted coconut oil


2 tablespoons warm melted coconut oil

2½  tablespoons cacao powder

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

a teeny-tiny pinch of sea salt


Lightly grease and line a 16 cm square cake tin or baking dish with baking paper.Closeup of chocolate clair bars

Place the cashews, almonds and oats in a food processor and blend to a soft, fine breadcrumb consistency; some small chunks are fine, but don’t over-blend or the mixture will get wet. Add the chia seeds, nut butter, maple syrup and sea salt.

Combine the dates with the warm melted coconut oil and add to the blender (this will help to soften the dates slightly). Blend until everything is mixed together. The mixture should be moist but not soggy. If it’s too wet, remove the contents and blend up some more nuts or oats, before folding them through the mixture. (Alternatively, you can add some almond meal, desiccated coconut, cacao powder or any other dry, flour-like ingredient you have on hand that you are happy to consume raw.)

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing down firmly with the back of a large spoon that has been dipped in water (this will stop the mixture from sticking to the spoon). Cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour until firm (to speed up the process you can pop it in the freezer).

Meanwhile, to make the topping, melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Sift in the cacao powder, add the maple syrup and salt, and stir until smooth (you may need to use a small whisk to remove any lumps of cacao). Pour the topping over the chilled base and allow to set in the fridge for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.

Store the bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. If you leave them at room temperature, the topping will melt. Alternatively, you can store them in the freezer for up to 2 months, removing them 15 minutes before consuming.

Woman holding baby - Book cover of Nurturing Your New Life by Heidi Sze

Nurturing Your New Life

by Heidi Sze

Words and recipes for the new mother.

For many first-time mothers expectations about their new life come from idealised images on TV, in magazines or online. It’s a far cry from what it actually involves: lack of sleep, time and control – and total dependency on you by another. Becoming a mother brings extraordinary physical and emotional changes to a woman’s life, but it also taps into deep instincts. Heidi Sze’s message is to surrender to the changes, reject the guilt and accept the imperfect reality of this new life.


Start reading today

Posted on October 11, 2019 by

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"Recipe extract: Joan’s ‘chocolate clair’ bars"

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