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.
- Almond Flour: the superfine flour from Bob’s. You can also use almond meal.
- Coconut: my shredded coconut is very fine, tiny pieces. If yours is a bit larger, you can blend it up a bit before making the base.
- Vanilla: powder, extract, or paste. Double the amount if using extract.
- Sea Salt: both the base and filling are a bit bland without.
- Nut Butter: almond butter will give a nice strong almond flavour, but use whatever you prefer.
- Honey or Maple Syrup: use the latter for fully vegan bars.
- Coconut Oil: no sub here – it helps with the good crisp crack of the base.
- Dates: soak beforehand if needed so that they blend properly.
- Dark Chocolate: for coating, use whatever cacao percentage you like (mine is 70%).
Step by Step
Notes and Substitutions
Try hazelnut flour in place of almond for a slight twist. Change up the nut butter as you like, based on your personal preference. Peanut butter will make the bars taste only of peanut.
Substitute cinnamon or another common spice for vanilla if you’d like. Cardamom is nice.
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.
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.
More No-Bake Desserts
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- 100 grams (1 cup) almond flour
- 80 grams (1 cup) shredded coconut (unsweetened)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (or 1 teaspoon extract)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 60 grams (1/4 cup) nut butter
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 200 grams (1 cup) soft dates*
- 2 tablespoons nut butter
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder (or 1/2 teaspoon extract)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 150 grams (3/4 cup) 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
* Soak the dates in very hot water for at least 30 minutes before mixing if they're quite dry.
• The size of the tin doesn't really matter - either the layers will be a bit thinner or thicker. My bread tin is 30cm long. You can also use a square baking tin (the bars don't need to be long and narrow, they can be squares or whatever you like).
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 108mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 3gSugar: 18gProtein: 3g
This data is provided by a calculator and is a rough estimation of the nutritional information in this recipe.