2tablespoonscacao nibs (for topping the sandwiches)
Make the brownies:
In the body of a food processor, process the nuts with the cacao powder and salt until fairly finely ground. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. Place the dates (drained if soakewith the vanilla in the now-empty blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the nut mixture and melted cacao butter to the date mixture, and pulse until combined and clumpy, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
Line two 8x4" loaf pans (or one 8x8" square pawith parchment paper, leaving the sides sticking out for handles. Pack each pan with half of the brownie mixture, pressing firmly, into a thin, even layer. Freeze the brownies until firm, at least 20 minutes.
Make the ice cream:
Heat the coconut milk with the vanilla bean in a small saucepan over a medium flame until hot and steamy, swirling occasionally. Cover and let steep 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the raspberries with 3 tablespoons of the maple syrup and the bourbon in a small bowl and mash lightly. Set aside.
In the body of a blender or food processor, pulse together the cashews, maple syrup, and salt. Blend until smooth, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Remove the vanilla pod from the coconut milk, discard the pod, and slowly blend the coconut milk into the cashew mixture. Blend until silky smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, a minute or two. Blend in the melted cacao butter, then stir in the mashed berries and their juices, leaving some chunks of berries.
Scrape the ice cream mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Assemble the sandwiches:
If you made the brownies in one pan, cut in half. Scrape the ice cream onto the top of one brownie and spread evenly. (There is plenty of ice cream, so feel free to "taste.") Turn out the second brownie onto the top of the ice cream and press gently to even it out. Peel off the parchment and discard. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.
When firm, use the parchment handles to pull the ice cream sandwich out of the pan and onto a large cutting board. With a sharp chef's knife, trim away the edges and cut into 8 sandwiches. Freeze until ready to dip.
Make the chocolate:
In a metal bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, combine the cacao butter, cacao powder, maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk until nearly melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until warm and slightly thickened, whisking frequently to keep the mixture in emulsion.
Dip the sandwiches:
Remove the frozen sandwiches from the freezer and line a small sheet pan with parchment paper. Working quickly, dip a sandwich into the chocolate halfway on the diagonal. Shake off the excess chocolate, place on the pan and immediately top with a sprinkle of cacao nibs before the chocolate hardens. (You'll only have a matter of seconds to get them on there, but you can always re-dip the sandwich if need be.) Work quickly and return the sandwiches to the freezer to firm up again, at least 30 minutes.
The sandwiches are best when they've had a few minutes to soften out of the freezer. If not serving immediately, wrap airtight and store for up to a month or two.
Adapted from Minimalist Baker.Do be sure to give the cashews a nice long soak prior to blending – between 6 and 24 hours.Raw cacao powder, cacao butter and cacao nibs can be found in many healthy foodie stores. If you can't find raw cacao powder, you can use cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural) in its place. Coconut butter or oil can be used in place of cacao butter in the brownies, and melted coconut oil can be used in the ice cream. Coconut oil will probably work in the raw chocolate in place of cacao butter, as well, though I do love the chocolatey flavor the cacao butter adds to this recipe, so it is well worth seeking out.I like the lighter flavor of grade A maple syrup here as it gives the sandwiches a cleaner flavor, but grade B will work fine in a pinch. You can also use honey, but you'll want to decrease the quantity a bit as it is sweeter than maple syrup, and the recipe will no longer be vegan.The raw chocolate recipe will make more chocolate than you'll need, but it will allow you enough depth into which to dip the sandwiches. Extra chocolate can be poured into a bowl, chilled, and cut into pieces to eat. Store in the refrigerator. You can use a good quality bittersweet chocolate in place of the raw chocolate if you prefer.This recipe makes 8 small but rich sandwiches. Feel free to double the recipe, forming the brownies into two 8x8" pans, or triple it and form the brownies into two 9x12" pans. The sandwiches can be individually wrapped and hoarded in the freezer for up to a month or two. For the best results, let them soften out of the freezer for about five minutes before eating.All ounce measurements here are by weight.Nutritional values are based on one of eight servings.