Here's my take on a healthier "Snickers" chocolate bar, aka peanut caramel bars. They're the tastiest wee morsels, consisting of an oaty nutty base layered with a very generous peanut date caramel, and finally topped with chocolate and chopped peanuts, to make one seriously delicious mouthful. These are without a doubt my favourite sweet treat on this blog to date - if you're at all tempted, you must give them a whirl!
Tell me more about this caramel...
Medjool dates are a type of date prized for their large size, sweet taste and uber juicy chewy flesh. In New Zealand you can typically buy them in the fresh produce section at your local supermarket (unlike most dried fruits). They're delicious, with a delicate caramel toffee flavour - they could totally be the poster child for nature's candy store.
From a nutrition perspective they're high in dietary fibre and are a good source of the minerals potassium and magnesium. When soaked and blended they make a yummy date puree which tastes like caramel. To make the caramel a little more "snickers" like, I added peanut butter to the mix - the outcome was seriously yum.
Before you read on to the recipe (and with my nutritionist hat sitting tightly on my head), keep in mind these peanut butter caramel bars are indeed still a treat! Yes, it's wonderful to recreate healthier and more nourishing alternatives to processed varieties, but still enjoy them in moderation - sugar is sugar, even if it comes in a form with more nutrition.
I hope you love these like I do! Enjoy...
"Snickers" Peanut Caramel Bars
2/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup dry oats
6 medjool dates
Pinch of salt
1 tsp water
Peanut butter caramel
12 medjool dates
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
4 Tbsp melted coconut oil
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
150g dark chocolate
1. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
2. Add the walnuts, oats, 6 medjool dates and pinch of salt into a blender and process for 1 minute. Add the tsp of water, and process for another 30 seconds. The mixture should resemble breadcrumbs and be slightly tacky when pressed between your fingers.
3. Tip mixture into the lined loaf tin, and using the back of a spatula press it down nice and evenly, until it's well compacted. Pop the tin into the refrigerator. Wash out the food processor if needed, and dry (you'll be using it again to make the caramel).
4. Soak the 1 cup of medjool dates in hot water (enough to cover them) for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the date water. Add to a food processor the dates and reserved water and blitz until you have a smooth date puree. You may need to stop the blender and scrap down the sides a few times (depending on the size of your food processor).
5. Add into a saucepan the date puree, peanut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla essence, and melt gently, mixing until smooth.
6. Add the peanut butter caramel to the top of the base, and smooth out nice and even using the spatula. Place in the freezer for two hours for the caramel to harden (don't try and take it out before hand, the caramel will be too soft to cut).
7. Remove caramel from the loaf tin and using a sharp knife cut the slab into 10 even sized pieces. Pop the pieces back into the freezer while you melted your chocolate to keep the caramel solid and cold.
8. To garnish each piece with chocolate, you have two options:
Chocolate topped: holding the base with your fingers, flip over a piece and dip the caramel top into a few millimetres of chocolate. Place onto a lined pieces of baking paper and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Pop into the fridge to harden.
Chocolate bar: using two teaspoons to hold onto it dip each side of the bar in the melted chocolate, until all sides are covered. Drip of excess chocolate. Place onto a lined pieces of baking paper and sprinkle with chopped peanuts
Storage notes: Give the nature of these bars, they need to be kept in the freezer/fridge until they're ready to be eaten. If kept out at room tempature for too long, the caramel will soften and you'll be left with a tasty pile of gloop.
Makes 10 pieces