Skip the Store-Bought Variety and Try These Homemade Peanut Caramel Candy Bars
A recipe for peanut caramel candy bars, excerpted from the cookbook Girls Gone Veg: Plant-Based Recipes by Athletes, for Everyone, by Toni Pressley and Ali Riley
If you want to impress someone with a homemade healthy dessert (also gluten-free!), you’ve come to the right place. Using only natural ingredients, these peanut caramel candy bars are sweetened with dates and maple syrup instead of the corn syrup, refined sugar, and artificial flavorings of traditional candy bars. Cutting into the bars and seeing the layers is so satisfying, and that sprinkle of sea salt on top enhances the delicious flavors in just the right way. Make sure your dates are nice and soft, since they play a key role!
Peanut Caramel Candy Bars
16 smalls servings
- Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing the baking dish
- 1 cup roasted and salted peanuts
- 20 pitted Medjool dates, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, divided
- 3/4 cup unsweetened and unsalted creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, divided
- 4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Flaky sea salt
Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper. (Greasing the bottom of the baking dish first with nonstick spray can help keep the parchment paper in place.) Place the peanuts, 10 of the dates, and 1/4 teaspoon of the vanilla into a food processor.Blend on high speed until the mixture is crumbly but sticks together when pressed, about one minute.
Press the mixture into the bottom of the lined baking dish to form an even layer. Place the baking dish into the freezer. Now add the peanut butter, the 10 remaining dates, 1/4 cup of the coconut oil, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla to the food processor. Blend on high speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the food processor as necessary.
Take the baking dish out of the freezer and spread the mixture over the base layer. Return the dish to the freezer.
Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut oil into a small pot. Add the cocoa powder and maple syrup. Whisk well over low heat for about 1 to 2 minutes until combined. Remove the baking dish from the freezer and pour the liquid mixture over the second layer. Tilt the dish in all directions to make sure the mixture coats the entire second layer evenly. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Return to the freezer until the chocolate layer is solid, at least 15 minutes. When ready to serve, remove the bars from the freezer and allow them to thaw for 5 minutes. Run the blade of a sharp knife under hot water. Cut the bars into 16 squares and serve.
Store the bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to three months. If frozen, allow time for them to thaw before serving (this can take up to 20 minutes).
Excerpted from Girls Gone Veg: Plant-Based Recipes by Athletes, for Everyone, by Toni Pressley and Ali Riley. Copyright 2023, published by Andrews McMeel Universal. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.