Vegan Salted Caramel Bars

These vegan salted caramel bars are so good they almost made me bust my macros!!!

Hello friends!  I’m now 2 days out from my upcoming bodybuilding competition, and today is my last day of carb and calorie depletion before refeeding tomorrow in final preparation for the show on Saturday.  I’m hungry!!  In every sense of the word.

The fun part of “peak week” for me is deciding what post-show treat I’m going to indulge in.  Lots of competitors eat donuts, but I’ve never been into them.  However, the advantage of donuts is that they’re store-bought, thereby eliminating pre-show temptation!  I can’t say the same for these rich, chocolatey, gooey, nutty bars…

They were my go-to after my show last year and oh! I was in heaven as I bit through 3 layers of pure decadence: first, the top crackling layer of rich dark chocolate… then into the chewy, sweet/salty caramel layer made from dates and nut butter, sweetened with a bit of maple syrup.  Finally, the dense crunch of nutty goodness that is the base: blended dates, nuts, cocoa powder, & coconut (leave it out if you don’t like it, it will turn out the same.)

Can you tell I’m drooling over even the thought of eating them again after this competition is over?? As I cut them into squares to pack up to take with us to the show tomorrow, I was overcome with an almost primal urge to devour the whole pan.  It seriously took all my willpower to do nothing more than take these pictures and then pack them carefully into Tupperware for the trip to Subic Bay. But I did, and I reckon that was my final little victory before my carb refeed begins tomorrow!

I do hope you make these and love them as much as I do.  They’re so easy and all you need is a food processor.  Well, that and the discipline to let them chill thoroughly… or in my case, stay out of them until after the show!

Enjoy, friends! I’ll keep you posted on the results of the competition.

Vegan Salted Caramel Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: about 20-25 small bars

Vegan Salted Caramel Bars

Ingredients

    For the base:
  • 1 ½ cups raw nuts (I used a combination of almonds and walnuts)
  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted (soak in hot water if they’re a bit dry, then drain)
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 2 T. unsweetened coconut (optional but delicious)
  • 2 T. extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1/8 t. sea salt
  • For the caramel layer:
  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted (soak in hot water if they’re a bit dry, then drain)
  • 1 cup nut butter (I used a combination of cashew and almond butter)
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 t. sea salt
  • For the chocolate layer:
  • 100gm (3 oz) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 T. extra-virgin coconut oil

Method

    To make the base:
  • Place raw nuts in a food processor and process until coarse crumbs form. (Don’t process so long you get nut butter!) Add remaining ingredients and process until dough forms. Press into a rectangular pan lined with parchment for easy removal. Chill briefly while you make the caramel.
  • To make the caramel:
  • Process the dates until fairly smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth & creamy. Taste and adjust accordingly: more maple syrup for sweetness, more nut butter for richness, more salt for a little bite. Spread evenly over the base, and return to the fridge while you make the topping.
  • To make the chocolate topping:
  • Melt together the chopped chocolate and coconut oil until smooth. Spread over the caramel layer. Chill for about 30 minutes, then score into bite-sized pieces. Chill again until set, about 3 hours.
http://www.thexpatdietitian.com/vegan-salted-caramel-bars/

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