When I took a few days off last week I completely forgot to bring healthy(ier) snacks with me, so when I got hungry I reached for the closest vending machine. I know, bad habit. The thing is, I couldn't find a single bar that was 1) vegan and 2) healthy, meaning for me no white sugar or palm oil. So I decided to make my own!
Think of these bars as a mix of Twix and Kinder Bueno. You get a crunchy shortbread base topped with a smooth hazelnut "milk" cream. The difference between this and a simple date "caramel" is that I used hazelnut butter combined with tahini to give it a milky flavor. The addition of cocoa butter makes the filling soft and creamy, with a pleasant melt-in-your-mouth texture. I only use shelf-stable ingredients here so the bars can be kept at room temperature for several weeks.
The shortbread base can be made two ways: baked or no-bake. I tried both and while I prefer the baked one, the no-bake version is easier and faster. Baking the base will give you a shortbread-like texture, a bit more crunchy and crumbly.
It requires only 5 ingredients to make the shortbread: oat flour, maple syrup, coconut oil, almond butter, and vanilla extract. You mix everything together until you get a dough, press it down into a baking dish and bake for 18 minutes.
The top layer consists of hazelnut butter combined with maple syrup for a caramel flavor, and tahini for a light milky taste. Then you stir in melted cocoa butter that will help firm up everything as it cools. I highly recommend using hazelnut butter, it gives the bars a nutty flavor that pairs very well with the chocolate coating. Hazelnut + Chocolate: You know what I mean...
Regarding the maple syrup, I usually go with Dark Amber because it has a more intense flavor and a thicker consistency but regular maple syrup will work great too.
Once everything is smooth and well combined, you pour it over the shortbread base and let it cool in the refrigerator. After about 2 hours, the hazelnut layer will have harden a bit.
When the hazelnut layer is firmer, cut into 8 bars and generously dip in melted chocolate!
I think I already mentioned this in a previous recipe, but if you want to have a thinner coating you can "liquify" the chocolate a bit with cocoa butter. To do that, melt the chocolate with additional cocoa butter, use about 1 ounce of cocoa butter for 10 ounces of dark chocolate. I don't recommend using chocolate chips here, the cocoa butter content is too low to make a thin coating.
If you are looking for a healthier alternative to store-bought snack bars, this recipe won't disappoint! They have a crunchy shortbread base, a creamy and melt-in-your-mouth hazelnut layer, and a crispy chocolate coating. Plus they are designed to keep at room temperature for up to 3 weeks (probably more).
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
Healthier Chocolate Candy Bars (Vegan + GF)
- ½ and ⅓ cup cup oat flour
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoon melted coconut oil (or cocoa butter)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Creamy Hazelnut Layer
- ½ cup hazelnut butter
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoon tahini
- ¼ cup melted cocoa butter
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 10 ounces dark chocolate
- 1 ounce cocoa butter (optional, yields a thinner coating)
- Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line the bottom of a 4x7-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the oat flour, almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until you get a slightly crumbly dough. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and press it down firmly using the bottom of a glass.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely and keep the shortbread in the baking dish.
Creamy Hazelnut Layer
- In a small bowl, whisk together the hazelnut butter, maple syrup, and tahini. Slowly pour in the melted cocoa butter and whisk gently until fully incorporated. Stir in the salt.
- Pour over the shortbread base and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until the hazelnut layer is firmer. You can speed up the process by placing the baking dish in the freezer.
- Run a knife around the edges of the baking dish. Remove the preparation from the baking dish and slice into 8 thin bars.
- Melt the dark chocolate with the cocoa butter over a double boiler. Using a dipping tool, dip each bar into the melted chocolate. Place the dipped bars on a silpat or parchment paper and refrigerate 10 minutes, or let cool at room temperature to set the chocolate.
- You can then wrap each bar individually with plastic film and keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. For a firmer hazelnut layer, keep the bars in the refrigerator.
Hey! These look divine - a perfect cross between the two chocolate candies I loved the most, Twix + Bueno! Can't wait to try, but just wondering if regular coconut oil would sub for the coconut butter? Thanks so much!
I assume you mean cocoa butter, you could use coconut oil but the texture and flavor will be a bit different, the filling might be too soft. If you plan to keep them in the fridge then it might be okay.
These are so pretty and I imagine they taste just as good - if not better - than a store-bought candy bar! Love it!
Thank you Melissa 😉
Coco in the Kitchen
Twix just got TOLD!
These chocolate bars look absolutely amazing! I love the fact it's vegan too - simply perfect ♥
Thank you Natalie! 🙂
Yummy yummy yummy!!! Thank you for this, I’m soo glad I came across your recipes via Pinterest!! You make it so easy to make, I love baking and making healthier treats for my family, but have limited time with two littles so your website is just what I needed:) It’s even nice without the chocolate layer so I make half of the batch without it
So happy to hear you liked the bars 🙂 I'm sure they also taste good without the chocolate! The coating is great if you plan to bring the bars with you as it prevents them from being sticky and helps keep their shapes. Thanks for the feedback Heleen!
Many many thanks for your recepies
This one was a killer!!!!
Wow these are fabulous! finally I found someone who is obsessed with hazelnut and chocolate as much as I am 🙂 Your recipes are unique and varied and I'm so glad I found this 🙂 This is the first of many of your desserts I will be making. One of the best dessert recipes I've made (and I have made many through all these lockdowns!) Thank you for your hard work and creativity, Chris
Haha 🙂 Thanks again for your nice words Christina! Glad you liked the recipe!
Hi. The recipe looks great. I want to make these bars but I don’t know whereI can buy hazelnut paste. Or maybe I can make it?
Thanks! You can check organic stores, or simply buy hazelnuts, roast them and process in a blender or food processor until you get a smooth paste 😉
These were so delicious!! I followed the recipe to a T and they turned out perfect! I had never had hazelnut butter and omg now I’m obsessed oops! I’m definitely bookmarking this one for a sweet little treat every now and then 🙂 Thank you for sharing the recipe and I look forward to more of your yummy recipes!! Happy Sunday!
I'm also obsessed with hazelnut butter! 🙂 Glad you liked the recipe Kristina!
I love chocolate very much. Thank you for sharing. I'll try this recipe soon.
Let me know when you do try it!