With summer quickly approaching in the northern hemisphere, we need some no-bake treats on hand! There’s always a point when it gets too hot to bake, but I don’t want to stop making healthy-ish desserts no matter what the weather’s like.
These easy shortbread caramel bars definitely fit the bill, and they’re kept in the freezer, so the almond flour base stays nice and crisp. It’s a bit like a date caramel twix bar, or a no-bake millionaire, and delicious.
Gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan (fully if using maple syrup) it’s also a good pantry treat that doesn’t need any outlandish ingredients. Even including salt and vanilla, you need just nine ingredients altogether.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Almond flour: either almond flour or almond meal. Hazelnut flour makes a good sub for almond.
- Nut butter: almond butter will give a nice strong almond flavour, but use whatever you prefer. Peanut butter will make chocolate peanut butter bars, which is quite nice.
- Sweetener: use maple syrup instead of honey for fully vegan bars.
- Coconut oil: no sub here – it helps with the good crisp crack of the base. I haven’t tried with butter but coconut oil is harder than butter, so I would still choose oil here.
Step by Step
Step 1: soak the dates in hot water if needed before starting.
Step 2: mix the almond and coconut base ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Step 3: press the base firmly into a lined tin and freeze.
Step 4: blend the date caramel mixture until very smooth.
Step 5: spoon the caramel into an even layer over the shortbread base, then freeze again.
Step 6: melt the dark chocolate with a double boiler or over very low heat.
Step 7: slice the bars and keep chilled before dipping in chocolate.
Step 8: dip the bars into melted chocolate and decorate.
Substitute cinnamon or another common spice for vanilla if you’d like. Cardamom is nice.
If you don’t have a food processor, I recommend coconut sugar caramel instead of the date caramel. This can be made on the stovetop and doesn’t require a mixer. Alternatively, use very soft dates and plenty of elbow grease, and mash with a fork.
This recipe was adapted from my dark chocolate coconut bars.
How to Store
Storage: these can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, but are best kept frozen.
Freezing: keep the bars in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one month and serve from frozen.
- Add milk: if needed, add a splash of non-dairy milk to the caramel mixture. Start with a tablespoon and work your way up if it’s not smooth enough.
- Use desiccated coconut: regular shredded coconut will work fine, but very fine desiccated dried coconut is perfect for these bars if you can get it – it makes a much more shortbread-like base.
- Soak the dates: if they’re quite dry, soak the dates in very hot water for at least 30 minutes before mixing.
More No-Bake Desserts
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No-Bake Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars
- 100 grams almond flour
- 80 grams unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 60 grams runny nut butter
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil softened
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 200 grams soft dates*
- 2 tablespoons runny nut butter
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla powder or 1/2 teaspoon extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 150 grams dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Start by making the shortbread. Line a large loaf tin or other container with parchment paper.
- Add the almond flour, coconut, vanilla, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.100 grams almond flour, 80 grams unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Add the nut butter, coconut oil, and honey or syrup. Use your hands to mix until very well combined and the mixture holds when pressed together.60 grams runny nut butter, 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 tablespoons honey
- Tip the mixture into the lined loaf tin and use your hands to press firmly into an even layer.
- Set the tin in the freezer to set for at least 30 minutes.
- To make the caramel, add the dates, nut butter, vanilla, and salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.200 grams soft dates*, 2 tablespoons runny nut butter, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Blend, scraping down the sides as needed, until a smooth paste forms. If the caramel is too thick, add a splash of non-dairy milk.
- Scoop the caramel onto the frozen shortbread base and spread as evenly as possible.
- Place the bars back into the freezer for another 30 minutes (or longer).
- Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler or in a small saucepan over very low heat. Set aside to cool slightly before dipping.150 grams dark chocolate, finely chopped, 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Take the frozen shortbread layers out of the freezer. Carefully cut into 16 small bars. If the caramel is still a little soft, they can be frozen for a few minutes again before dipping in chocolate.
- Use a fork to lift the individual bars and dip them into the melted chocolate, turning to fully coat.
- Place the coated bars onto a rack or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Top with another drizzle of chocolate if desired.
- Once all of the bars are coated, place them back into the freezer in a sealed container to store. They’ll keep for up to a month this way and are best served directly from the freezer.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
If you’re looking for approachable, seasonal vegetarian recipes, you’re in the right place! Occasionally Eggs is all about healthier plant based recipes that follow the seasons.