A very Canadian, very prairie treat, puffed wheat squares are a staple on the dainties tray in Manitoba at any events or get-togethers. These were a favourite for me growing up and this version is made a bit healthier with peanut butter, dates, and honey.
If you’ve never had a puffed wheat square, it’s a chewy chocolate treat with (you guessed it) puffed wheat forming the base. Unlike rice crispies, they’re not crisp at all – if you’ve tried my puffed quinoa bars, it’s very close in texture to that.
It’s a special dessert. Very nostalgic, but also modernised here with some ingredient changes. These are puffed wheat squares without corn syrup, and they’re just as chewy and delicious as the original. These make a great snack for adults and kids alike, are no-bake, and very simple.
- Peanut Butter: pure peanuts, with no oil or sugar added. If the peanut butter contains salt, omit the added salt in the recipe.
- Dates: mashed or pureed beforehand, so if they’re not very soft, they should be soaked in hot water first (see below).
- Honey: creamed or liquid, it doesn’t matter.
- Coconut Oil: use refined to avoid any slight coconut flavour if preferred.
- Vanilla: pure extract. If using powder or paste, reduce by half.
- Cocoa: or raw cacao for a less sweet bar. Make sure it’s for baking and not drinking (no sugar or milk powder added).
- Sea Salt: a small amount, but this can be left out if needed.
- Puffed Wheat: this is very easy to find in Canada, and increasingly available in Europe. Make sure it’s unsweetened, not breakfast cereal.
Step by Step
Tips and Notes
To soften the dates, soak in freshly boiled water for 10-15 minutes, or hot water from the tap for about an hour. Either mash very well with a fork, or puree with a small blender.
Don’t leave out the dates. If anything, add more honey if you can’t find dates to use for the recipe – they’re important in making everything stick together. I haven’t tested with only honey and no dates so you’d have to experiment a bit.
The size of the container isn’t so terribly important. It just means the bars will be a bit thicker or thinner, though they should be pretty thick.
To make fully vegan squares, you can use maple syrup or something like coconut nectar. I find the stick factor of honey to be important here, but if you don’t mind slightly crumbly bars, maple syrup can be used. It might work with date syrup, but you would have a fairly strong molasses flavour. Brown rice syrup works well.
Another oil can’t be used in place of coconut. It must be something that’s solid at room temperature to ensure the correct texture (one that holds together). Butter is normally used in puffed wheat squares.
To make these gluten free, use something that’s GF already as the base. Puffed buckwheat, quinoa, oats, whatever you would usually have on hand.
Raw cacao and regular baking cocoa (not drinking cocoa) can be used interchangeably. There is a slight flavour variation so use whatever you like most.
More No-Bake Treats
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Peanut Butter Puffed Wheat Squares
- 200 grams natural peanut butter
- 100 grams dates mashed or pureed
- 80 grams honey
- 60 grams coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 25 grams cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 200 grams puffed wheat
- Line a 20cm (8 in.) baking dish* with parchment paper and set aside.
- Add the peanut butter, date puree, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla to a large pot.
- Heat until just melted, stirring constantly. Once the mixture comes together and the oil has melted, immediately remove from the heat.
- Stir in the cocoa and salt, mixing to combine.
- Add the puffed wheat and stir, using a spatula, until fully coated in the peanut butter mixture.
- Turn the puffed wheat mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press into as even a layer as possible.
- Place the dish into the freezer and chill for at least ten minutes (or refrigerate for 30 minutes), then lift it out of the dish with the parchment paper and slice into bars.
- Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days, or freeze up to three months. I prefer to keep these in the refrigerator for best texture.
This post was first published in December 2014. It has been updated with some slight improvements to the recipe as of November 2021.