If your dates are stiff or dry, soak the dates in a bowl of water for 30-60 minutes before beginning. Drain well and pat dry before use.
Add cashews and salt into a food processor and process the until the cashew crumbs are just smaller than peas, for about 3-4 seconds.
Now add in the pitted dates and process until the mixture comes together, for about 15 seconds, or longer if needed. The mixture should stick together easily when you squeeze it between your fingers. If it doesn’t stick or it’s still a bit crumbly, add a very small amount of water (1 tsp at a time) and process it again. I added 1 tsp of water and it was perfect.
Add the vanilla and process until combined. Finally, pulse in the chocolate or simply stir in by hand.
Line an 8-inch square pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper, one going each way (this makes it easier to lift out). Scoop mixture into pan and smooth out with hand until it’s level. Beginning at the centre, push down firmly all over the mixture. The more you pack it down the better the bars will hold together. Roll out with a pastry roller if you have one (you know I was all over that!).
Freeze for at least 15 minutes and then slice into 10-12 bars. The bars are a bit fragile and can break apart, so just handle them carefully. For on-the-go, wrap bars in plastic wrap or tin foil and store in the fridge or freezer. Or just store them all in an air-tight container if enjoying at home. Most importantly of all, hide from other members of the family.
You can use Medjool or honey dates here. Just be sure they are nice and soft.