Ooey gooey salted caramel bars with maple-flavored almond crust and a crunchy topping – need I say more?
When I first heard of salted caramel, the idea didn’t sound appetizing to me in the least. Because salt and sugar don’t mix, right?
Boy, was I wrong.
Because salt truly has a way of enhancing sweetness.
If you love salted caramel (or you’re curious and want to give it a shot), these bars are the perfect treat for you. They pretty much consist of a thin, almond-maple flavored crust and a generous layer of date-based caramel.
I like to top them with chopped almonds and dates (and sometimes chocolate) for extra crunch but that’s totally optional.
As always, the recipe calls only for healthy, plant-based ingredients (6 ingredients in total to be exact) and is ridiculously easy to make. Because, conveniently, making caramel out of dates not only helps leave out refined sugar and dairy but it’s also infinitely easier compared to the sugar-melting way.
These bars are oil-free and soy-free as well and can be made gluten-free if you opt for gluten-free oats. If you can’t have nuts, try using sunflower seeds in the crust in place of almonds.
- For the crust
- 1 cup (95 g) ground almonds
- 1 cup (90 g) ground oats (gluten-free if needed)
- ⅓ cup (110 g) maple syrup (or agave)
- For the caramel
- 3 cups chopped dates, soaked in water for 1 hour (use my quick-soaking trick to speed things up)
- ¼ cup (60 g) melted cocoa butter (or ¼ cup of your favorite nut butter)
- salt to taste (I used ¼ teaspoon)
- optional: dates, chocolate chips and/or almonds for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350 (180 Celsius) and line a 8x8 pan with parchment.
- Combine the ground almonds, oats and maple syrup in a medium bowl and mix until you get a crumbly 'dough'.
- Transfer to the prepared pan and push in evenly. I like to use the back of a spoon or flat bottom of a glass (dip either in cold water if the mixture sticks to it too much).
- Bake for 10-15 minutes. The crust should be firm and lightly golden at the edges.
- Take out and let cool slightly.
- In the meantime, drain the soaked dates and transfer into a food processor or a high-powered blender.
- Process until entirely smooth (stop to scrape the sides as needed). If the mixture is too thick to blend properly, you can add a bit of maple syrup to make it easier.
- Pour in the melted cocoa butter or you favorite nut butter, add the salt and blend once again. You should end up with a smooth paste.
- Spoon out onto the cooled crust and spread out evenly with a spatula.
- If you like, top with chopped almonds, dates, chocolate chips or anything you want.
- Let the bars set in the fridge or freezer and slice before serving.
Budget-friendly tip: Grind the almonds and oats in a food processor – it takes about 2 minutes, tastes better and saves you tons of money.
View Salted Caramel Bars’ Nutritional Information