Have a raw-ly sweet Easter!

Have a cursory glance at the Easter treats available online and in the supermarkets and you might be surprised by what's on offer.


Where once creme-filled eggs, sugar-shelled treats and hollow chocolate bunnies were the norm, nowadays you're just as likely to have your head turned by chocolate 'Scotch' eggs, cheese flavoured hot cross buns and savoury 'cheester' eggs.

Adding to this alternative trend is chocolatier-with-a-difference Pana Barbounis.

The Melbourne-based entrepreneur founded Pana Chocolate three years ago, creating dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free luxury chocolate bars containing no refined sugar. Including enticing flavours like ginger and pineapple, fig and orange and coconut and goji, the bars are now sold worldwide and stocked in more than 20 countries.

And with his first book out, Pana Chocolate The Recipes, Barbounis is keen to show that despite the untraditional ingredients, his raw vegan offerings certainly aren't taste and fun-free.

Truthfully, they do require a bit more welly to make - as well as some more involved searches for ingredients and, in some cases, equipment - but if you're after a different kind of Easter showstopper, this could be a good place to get cracking.

Tempted to tackle the challenge? Here are three recipes from Pana Chocolate to give a whirl...


11 medjool dates, pitted

85ml filtered water

1.5tbsp lemon juice

2tbsp coconut sugar

1.5tbsp coconut butter

1tbsp tahini

2 pinches of Himalayan pink salt

2-3 45g bars of Pana Chocolate Raw Cacao (or a raw chocolate bar of your choice)

Using a 7cm chocolate egg mould, or similar, first make sure the mould is completely dry, then begin lining it. Melt the chocolate slowly in a bain-marie. Hold the chocolate mould on a slight angle. With a ladle, spoon the chocolate over each mould to fill. Tap the edge of the mould with the ladle handle to release any air bubbles.

Tip the mould upside down over the bowl of chocolate and let the excess drip out, tapping gently with a metal spatula. Run the spatula over the top and sides of the mould to remove all excess chocolate. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To create a date paste, blend the medjool dates, filtered water and one tablespoon of the lemon juice in a high-speed blender until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve, if desired. Set aside.

Combine the coconut sugar and the remaining half tablespoon of lemon juice in a bowl. Mix until the sugar dissolves.

Fold together the coconut butter, tahini, salt and 80g of the date paste. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag and pipe into each lined chocolate mould. Squeeze some filling into each chocolate mould, leaving a gap of approximately 2mm at the top of each mould.

Close the moulds with chocolate. Using a metal spatula, scrape off the excess chocolate. Keep your hand and spatula flat to ensure you don't puncture your chocolates.

Set in the fridge for two hours. Once set, knock the chocolates out of the moulds.

Any extra filling can be used as a spread on banana bread or toast!


15g sour cherries, chopped

13 almonds, roughly chopped

3tbsp pumpkin seeds

2 dried apricots, finely diced

45g bar of Pana Chocolate Raw Cacao (or a raw chocolate bar of your choice)

Combine all the ingredients except the chocolate in a small bowl and mix them together with your fingers.

Press the mixture evenly into four 12x3cm moulds, the fruit should help the nuts and seeds to stick together.

Freeze the mixture for 30 minutes to make it easier to pop out of the mould. Melt the chocolate slowly over a bain-marie. Remove the bar mixture from the moulds and, using a fork, dip the bars into the melted chocolate.

Tap the fork against the side of the bowl to remove any excess chocolate. Place the bar on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate until the chocolate has set.

Tip: For a different method of presentation, line the moulds with half the melted chocolate and set in the fridge. Once set, add your seeded nut mix, then pour the remaining chocolate on top and return to the fridge. When the chocolate has set, knock out the bar.


65g psyllium husk (available from various online health food stores)

200g Brazil nut pulp (use online tutorials to make this)

1tbsp ground cinnamon

1tsp ground nutmeg

1tsp ground ginger

1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped

70g flax (linseed) meal

150g coconut sugar

2 pinches of Himalayan pink salt

165g chopped medjool dates

1tbsp maple syrup, plus extra for glazing

220ml filtered water

80g sour cherries

35g dried cranberries

100g Pana Chocolate Raw Cacao, broken into chunks (or a raw chocolate bar of your choice)

For the chocolate cross:

120g cashews, soaked

2tbsp filtered water

2tbsp cacao powder

In a bowl, combine the psyllium, Brazil nut pulp, spices, vanilla seeds, flax meal, coconut sugar and salt. Ensure there are no clumps in the mixture. Pulse the dates in a high-speed blender until they form a chunky paste (approximately four to five seconds).

Add the maple syrup, filtered water and date mixture to the dry mix and massage together with your hands until combined. Continuing to use your hands, fold through the sour cherries, cranberries and chocolate chunks.

Form the mixture into balls of approximately three tablespoons each, and place them on a non-stick sheet, leaving a few centimetres/an inch between each. Using a pastry brush, glaze each bun with maple syrup (not too much - they shouldn't be dripping).

To make the mixture for the chocolate cross, blend the cashews, water and cacao powder until smooth. Using a piping bag with a small nozzle, pipe the mixture into a cross onto the top of each bun.

Dehydrate the buns at 40C for at least 12 hours. If you don't have an electric dehydrator, search online for advice on how to dehydrate the buns in an oven.

Pana Chocolate The Recipes: Raw, Organic, Handmade, Vegan by Pana Barbounis is published in hardback by Hardie Grant, priced £16.99. Available now

THREE OF THE BEST... Hot cross buns

4 Savoury Cheese Hot Cross Buns, £1.70 (Marks & Spencer)

Taste the Difference 4 Fruity Hot Cross Buns, £1.50 (Sainsbury's)

4 Richly Fruited Hot Cross Buns, £1.25 (Co-op)