I often get asked where I get my recipe inspiration and while I usually get it from nourishing meals my mom made for me growing up, interesting dishes I’ve had at restaurants, or unique twists on traditional comfort foods, sometimes I just have to recreate homemade versions of candy bars everyone knows and loves.
It all started with my homemade Reese’s eggs that I’ve been making for years and has since turned into incredible healthy peanut butter twix bars and even tahini caramel millionaire bars. I always recreate these candies using ingredients you can feel good about, but you know I don’t skimp on taste here. I hope you’re sitting down because today I’m bringing you a new treat that’s absolutely epic.
These vegan chocolate peanut butter caramel bars are like a double chocolate version of a Snicker’s bar but just so happen to be vegan, dairy free, grain free and gluten free. WHAT?!
We’re starting with a chocolate shortbread crust, topping it with crunchy, salty peanuts, pouring on my famous vegan peanut butter caramel, and finishing the bars with a layer of chocolate. When I say these bars are damn good I mean they might just be life-changing. Make a batch or two, store them for the week and don’t forget to share with loved ones!
Ingredients in these vegan chocolate peanut butter caramel bars
These bars are basically just layers of chocolatey, peanut butter goodness. You get a chocolate shortbread cookie base, a sweet & salty peanut butter caramel middle and, of course, a layer of dark chocolate on top. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make them:
- For the shortbread base: we’re getting that true chocolate shortbread flavor and texture but making it gluten free and grain free with fine, blanched almond flour, cocoa powder, coconut oil, a few tablespoons of maple syrup, vanilla and salt.
- For the peanut butter layer: that peanut butter “caramel” is made with natural, drippy peanut butter (we love Wild Friends — use the code ‘AMBITIOUS15’ for 15% off), maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt, and chopped up roasted & salted peanuts. I highly recommend trying honey roasted peanuts for even more flavor!
- For the chocolate layer: top it all off with a coating of chocolate made from chocolate chips and coconut oil. So easy and so delicious! Be sure to use dairy free/vegan chocolate chips to keep the bars vegan & dairy free.
Can I use a different nut butter?
Any nut butter should work in these grain free chocolate peanut butter caramel bars, but I really recommend sticking with peanut butter for the best flavor. Plus, the chopped peanuts add such an amazing texture to the bars!
How to make double chocolate peanut butter caramel bars
All of the layers in these vegan and gluten free chocolate peanut butter caramel bars might look a little intimidating, but they’re easier to make than you think!
- Prep your pan. Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper so that the bars do not stick.
- Make the shortbread base. Add all of the ingredients for the chocolate shortbread base to a bowl and mix it until a thick crumb texture appears. Pour this into your pan, press it down and bake.
- Peanut party. Once the crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle on those chopped peanuts. Let the crust cool before adding the peanut butter caramel.
- Make the caramel. While the crust is baking you’ll melt the peanut butter caramel ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until the caramel starts to bubble ever so slightly, then pour it over the peanuts and the shortbread crust.
- Chill the bars. Before adding the final layer you’ll need to place the pan n the fridge for at least 30-60 minutes, or in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
- Make the chocolate layer. Finally, melt the chocolate chips with coconut oil in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the chilled caramel layer and tilt the pan to evenly distribute it.
- Chill & enjoy. You’ll need to chill the bars one more time in the fridge for at least 1 hour until the chocolate is hardened. Then cut them into 16 bars and enjoy!
Get the right bar shape
Yes, you can cut these vegan chocolate peanut butter caramel bars into squares, but I think they’re way more fun when cut into Twix or Snicker’s shaped bars! To do this, start by cutting the entire pan of bars in half. Then, cut each half into 8, 1-inch bars. You’ll get 16 longer bars instead of squares!
Our best tips & reminders
- Use the right pan. Be sure to use an 8×8 inch pan in order to get the right shape and consistency. Even a little large, like a 9×9 inch pan, will make the bars too flat.
- Pack your almond flour. You’ll want to use packed almond flour (and make sure it’s blanched, fine almond flour) just like you would with brown sugar.
- Have patience. I know it’s tempting to put all of the layers together without waiting on the chill time, but you really do need the caramel and chocolate layers to chill completely so that the bars hold together well.
How to store & freeze these bars
- To store: these vegan chocolate peanut butter caramel bars should be kept covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them. They will stay good in your fridge for about 1 week.
- To freeze: feel free to keep them in a freezer-safe container in your freezer for up to 1 month. If you do keep them in your freezer, be sure to leave them out on the counter for a few minutes before serving so that they soften up a bit.
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I hope you love these vegan chocolate peanut butter caramel bars! If you make them be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked them. Enjoy, xo!
Vegan Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Bars
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Incredible vegan chocolate peanut butter caramel bars with a delicious chocolate shortbread cookie base and crunchy, salty peanuts right in the middle. These chocolate peanut butter caramel bars taste just like a Snicker’s bar but are naturally sweetened, gluten free and dairy free!
- For the shortbread base:
- 1 ¼ cup packed fine blanched almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons melted and cooled coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- For the peanut butter layer:
- 3/4 cup drippy natural peanut butter (crunchy or creamy works)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup coarsely chopped roasted salted peanuts (honey roasted are amazing!)
- For the chocolate layer:
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips, dairy free/vegan if desired
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch square pan with parchment paper. It’s important to use an 8×8 inch as a 9×9 inch pan may be too big.
In a medium bowl add the almond flour, cocoa powder, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt. Mix together with a fork until it forms a nice thick crumb texture. Add to the pan and use your fingers to evenly press down into the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool for 10 minutes before adding caramel.
After the crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle the crust evenly with the peanuts.
While the crust is baking, make the peanut butter caramel layer: Add the peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract and sea salt to a medium pot and place over medium-low heat for approximately 2 minutes until caramel starts to just slightly bubble, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and pour caramel over the peanuts and slightly cooled crust.
Place in the fridge for at least 30-60 minutes to completely harden the peanut butter. It shouldn’t take longer than this, but if you are impatient, just place it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes, this should speed up the process.
After 30 minutes or so, make the chocolate layer: Add chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high in 30 second increments, stirring in between until chocolate is completely melted. If you prefer, you can also melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat.
Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer and tilt the pan side-to-side to evenly distribute the melted chocolate. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour until chocolate is hardened and bars are completely cooled.
Remove bars from the pan and cut into 16 bars (that resemble twix bars). To do this, cut the entire pan of bars in half, and then cut each half into 8 (1-inch) bars (not squares!), so you’ll end up with 16 bars. Enjoy! Bars should be kept covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
Servings: 16 bars
Serving size: 1 bar
Saturated fat: 9g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats