Dairy Free, Desserts, Recipes

Caramel Peanut Butter Bars [Gluten Free, Dairy Free]

A cousin of Hersey’s Sweet Escapes and a Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treat.

caramel peanut butter bars

When I was growing up, my grandma was into every kind of “healthy” low-fat dessert.  This included Hersey’s Sweet Escapes candy bars.  These Sweet Escapes bars were low fat and the child version of me did not care.  I looked at these just as a candy bar we always seemed to have on hand, which I obviously loved.  They discontinued these Sweet Escape bars, but they still linger in my mind, so I wanted to recreate them by making these caramel peanut butter bars.

My caramel peanut butter bars are no bake and simple, especially if you use store bought caramel sauce (read your ingredients).  I opted to make my own caramel sauce that is paleo from Whole Food for 7.  Please try out that recipe because it is so good!

Once you mix the honey, caramel sauce, peanut butter, and rice cereal, you will want to line an 8 x 8” baking dish with parchment paper and transfer the mixture to this dish.  After you press down to make sure the mixture is evenly distributed, you will put it in the freezer for about an hour. Then you will remove from the freezer, cut into bars, and dip each bar in melted chocolate.  

The chocolate dipping part is messy.  Let your inner Monica Gellar go when you make this recipe.  I find that I am still pretty slow at this part. Therefore, I keep half (or a little more) of the bars in the freezer while I dip the first half.  If the bars get too thawed, they can easily lose their shape during this process.  Typically, I will drop one bar in the melted chocolate and use two forks to turn it over so it is completely coated.  I then take one fork and scoop out the bar from the chocolate. I tap it a few times on the side of the bowl so the excess chocolate falls off.  Using the fork, place the bar on a wax paper lined plate and use the second fork to push the first fork.  Once the plate is full, I sprinkle each caramel peanut butter bar with a little coarse sea salt and then store in the freezer.  You can take them out after a few minutes and create a drizzle of melted chocolate over them, but that is optional.  I recommend storing these caramel peanut butter bars in the freezer and taking them out a few minutes before enjoying!

Caramel peanut butter bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups of rice cereal
  • ¾ cup of room temperature caramel sauce (store bought [likely will not be dairy free] or paleo caramel sauce from Autumn at Whole Food for 7)
  • ½ cup of peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 2 ¼ cups of chocolate chips (I use Enjoylife which is GF, DF, and Vegan.)
  • 2 ½ TBSP coconut oil
  • Optional: Coarse Sea Salt

Instructions:

  1. Line an 8×8” baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix caramel sauce, peanut butter, honey, and rice cereal until well combined.
  3. Transfer the rice cereal mixture to the baking dish. Flatten it using a spatula until the mixture is evenly spread across the bottom of the dish.
  4. Transfer the dish to the freezer for at least one hour.
  5. Line a large plate with wax paper and set aside.
  6. In a microwave safe bowl, mix the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Put in the microwave for 30 second increments, stirring in between. Repeat until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth.
  7. Remove rice cereal mixture from the freezer and cut into bars (approximately 1 inch wide and 2-3 inches long).  Put half back in the freezer and keep the other half out to coat in chocolate.
  8. Using two forks, dip each bar in chocolate until it is fully coated.  Use one fork to scoop the bar out of the chocolate and tap on the fork on the edge of the bowl to allow for the excess chocolate to fall off the bar and back into the bowl.  Place on the plate lined with wax paper.  Repeat for all bars.  
  9. Once bars are coated in chocolate, sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt.
  10. Put chocolate coated bars in the freezer and remove the bars that have yet to be coated.  Repeat until all bars are coated with chocolate.
  11. Store bars in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy (at least one hour to allow for the chocolate to harden).  Remove from the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Notes:

  • This makes 16-20 bars.
  • You may have some chocolate left over, as it depends on how much excess chocolate you let drip back into the bowl.  You can always use the extra by adding a small drizzle of chocolate on top of the bars for texture and garnish.
  • Dipping the bars in chocolate is messy.  I always seem to move too slow and have bars start to thaw and lose their shape, so I recommend doing this recipe in batches, storing whatever bars you are not working on in the freezer.  The recipe suggests two batches, but sometimes I have to move to three if I am working really slow and letting all that excess chocolate drip off.
  • After your bars set and the chocolate has hardened, you may have some extra chocolate sitting in a now hardened puddle on the wax paper.  This is easy to break off with your hands or a butter knife if you prefer.  Or you can eat it as is–more chocolate never hurt anyone, right?!
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