The first time I saw pictures of raw vegan desserts online, my jaw dropped. They looked amazingly delicious, but the concept seemed so bizarre. That’s because making raw, vegan treats requires a completely different way of thinking about dessert. To me, dessert had always been a candy bar from the gas station, perhaps some berries and whipped cream, or better yet, a cake, brownie, or other baked good that needed heat and dairy products. But none of that is necessary for a great dessert. Raw vegan treats are here to save your day and help you cut out the processed sweet stuff. Here are five essential ingredients for decadent and summery no-bake, raw vegan treats:

1. Fruit5 Essential Ingredients for Decadent and Summery No-Bake, Raw Vegan Treats

Fresh fruit is essential for raw vegan desserts, whether you’re using whole fruit as a topping or pureeing it for the base of a cake or muffin. In conventional desserts, the sweetness comes from white sugar and honey, to name a few. In raw vegan desserts, however, you will taste the natural sweetness from the fruit, which will make you feel good while eating it. This means you’ll feel no guilt afterward, so munch away. Nature’s candy is packed with vitamins! Fruit is great to puree and freeze into popsicles to beat the summer heat. Try these Raw Fruit Popsicles with Coconut Milk and these Cool Pineapple Basil Pops. Freezing fruit also makes for tasty, raw ice cream. Try this Raw Banana Ice Cream Sundae.

2. Cacao or Cocoa5 Essential Ingredients for Decadent and Summery No-Bake, Raw Vegan Treats

Forget buying chocolate bars or chips from the grocery store. Many of those products contain milk, soy lecithin, and fillers. Go for raw cacao nibs or raw cocoa powder instead. Because of these super ingredients, chocolate fans can rejoice and still get a delicious cocoa taste in a much healthier form than chocolate bars. With raw cacao, you can make everything from raw truffles and energy balls to decadent cakes, brownies, and pies. Try these 20 Superfood Vegan Recipes Made with Raw Cacao.

3. Dates5 Essential Ingredients for Decadent and Summery No-Bake, Raw Vegan Treats

Dates serve as the binder for raw vegan desserts, the glue that holds all of those great ingredients together. They are magical for binding, holding, molding, and helping raw desserts keep a certain shape. Use them in this Raw Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and this Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting.

4. Coconut Oil5 Essential Ingredients for Decadent and Summery No-Bake, Raw Vegan TreatsChocolate Pudding Tart with Coconut Cream and Goji Berries

Coconut oil is a common ingredient in raw, vegan desserts. This oil helps give a creamy, runny texture for raw desserts, such as chocolate pudding layer of this Raw Vegan Chocolate Pudding Tart with Coconut Cream and Goji Berries. Usually, you will only need a couple tablespoons of coconut oil. A little bit of this fat goes a long way, so be careful when making your raw desserts and not overdo it.

5. Nuts5 Essential Ingredients for Decadent and Summery No-Bake, Raw Vegan Treats

Nuts are excellent bases for raw desserts, proving especially useful for crusts. For many raw desserts with crusts, you simple blend some nuts with oil or a liquid, then pat it down into crust shape or a flat bottom layer. The nuts will hold up well when molding the mixture, which is sturdy enough to hold whatever delicious filling or layers you’ll put overtop of it. Also, cashew nuts are especially great for making a cream, which adds a light dollop of deliciousness to raw dishes and helps create a mousse, such as in this Chocolate Raw Vegan Mousse Tart With Lemon Cashew Cream.

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Lead image source: Chocolate Raw Vegan Mousse Tart With Lemon Cashew Cream