Prep time: 20 minutes + 1 hour chill time
Bake time: No bake
If you're looking for a rich treat but with a little less sugar & allergy-friendly ingredients, this is your recipe.
Despite looking very decadent (which they are), these bars are suitable for just about anyone. They're gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, & much lower in sugar than your average dessert. Oh, & they require no baking. Well, I suppose a stovetop, but you won't need the oven.
Believe me when I say you can enjoy something comforting, something sweet, something decadent, without feeling like you have to sacrifice the flavor or enjoyment of a dessert. This is something I really try to emphasize with clients, you can have the treat, too!
I didn't quite know what to call these at first, so I combined recommendations from my friend, Vince, & cousin, Nina, to bring you the peanut butter brownie bar (thanks, guys).
One last thing, don't let the 3 layers intimidate you. There are a few things to consider, so I do encourage you to read the article all the way through but know that the bars come together quite quickly & require very little preparation. I hope you give these a try, & if you do, let me know - I'd love to see :)
brownie bar considerations
Coconut cream: It's important to use coconut cream, not coconut milk. Canned coconut cream is much thicker as it contains less water & more fat, so if you use coconut milk, the consistency of your bottom layer may be mushier & take longer to set. To make sure it holds together, coconut cream is important! Also, I recommend chilling the cream overnight before using, this will help thicken it up even further. An easy way to do this is to pop the can in the fridge the night before. Otherwise, you can likely get away with an hour or two in the fridge.
Sweetener: Other than the chocolate, the only sweetener I used was maple syrup. Feel free to sub this with honey if that's all you have.
Oats: I used sprouted oats for better digestibility. Whether they're whole or instant, it doesn't really matter since you're blending them. But, if gluten is a concern of yours, be sure to look for oats that are certified gluten-free as there is often cross-contamination.
Cacao: This recipe uses raw cacao, not cocoa. The flavor is stronger & provides more antioxidants compared to cocoa. Cocoa works just as well though, it's up to you! If you want to learn more about how the two compare, take a look at this article.
1 8x8 pan
1 medium-sized mixing bowl
whisk or other mixing tool
1 c oats
½ c raw cashews
½ c raw pecans
¼ c canned coconut cream, chilled
¼ c cacao
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp sea salt
1c runny peanut butter
¼ c cacao
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt
¾ c dark chocolate
1 Tbsp coconut oil
flaky salt, to top
Begin by making the bottom layer. In a small blender, blend together the oats, cashews, & pecans until you reach a flour consistency. Pour the flour into a medium-sized bowl then add the cacao, & sea salt. Lightly mix it together.
In the same bowl, add the coconut cream & maple syrup. Mix until everything is well combined. It may seem like it's not coming together but continue mixing, I promise it will!
Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper. Take your mixture & press it into the bottom of the pan, spreading it out evenly so the entire bottom is covered. *NOTE - a silicone spatula will make this process easier than using your hands. But, you might find the mixture sticking to the spatula. If so, periodically run the spatula underwater before you use it to spread the layer (don't dry), this will help prevent sticking.
Once your layer is flattened, place it in the fridge to chill while you start the middle layer. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before adding the next layer.
For the sake of ease, use the same bowl to make the middle layer. Melt the coconut oil however you'd prefer then add it to your bowl. Add the runny peanut butter, maple syrup, & vanilla then mix until everything is well incorporated. Next, gently mix in the cacao until it's thoroughly combined.
Once 10 minutes or so have passed, take your pan out of the fridge & spread your second layer on top of the first. Feel free to use the spatula again to help with this. Create a smooth, even layer, then place it back into the fridge. Let this sit for at least another 10 minutes.
While your pan is in the fridge, prepare the third layer. Using a small saucepan, melt your coconut oil over low heat.
Add your chocolate chips & stir consistently so the chocolate doesn't burn. This will only take a few minutes for the chocolate to melt.
Remove from the stovetop & let the chocolate cool for a few minutes, but no more than 5, or it may start to harden.
Take the pan out of the fridge & quickly pour the top layer of chocolate on. To get an even spread, slightly tilt the pan around to distribute the chocolate. *NOTE - if you put it in the freezer by any chance to chill, you'll want to spread the chocolate very fast as it will start to harden very quickly.
Once the entire surface is covered with a layer of chocolate, top with flaky sea salt & place your pan back into the fridge & let it sit for at least 30 minutes or until the top has fully hardened.
After the time has passed, cut into 12 or so squares & enjoy!