vegan snickers bars


There are certain foods that I just stopped eating one day. It was a combination of discovering information about "food" that I couldn't unlearn, ingredients lists that rivaled novels and a general understanding of myself that took some serious, conscious efforts in paying attention to how I felt. Turns out, food doesn't have to make you feel terrible. You don't have to always have indigestion or feel tired or suffer sugar breakouts.**

**More on this some other time, but if you're intrigued, start here.

So despite certain foods automatically falling off my normal rotation because I suddenly realized I was basically eating chemicals and preservatives and dyes and making my life unnecessarily harder and it wasn't even worth it (come on, guys, it's not worth it), it can be difficult to deny when those cravings roll around. My hankering for a Snickers bar usually begins somewhere on October 31st when everything comes in cute (but still bad!) bite sized packaging and ends, oh, never.

So what to do? You want a Snickers (or whatever your candy bar vice happens to be) but you can't eat a Snickers. Or can you? Can you make your own version with about ten million less ingredients (try ten, period, one of them being water) and still be just as satisfied?

I admit, I was skeptical. As much as I try to limit my dairy intake, I thought there was no chance a bunch of puréed dates would pass for caramel. Well, I've reformed. And I'm sorry (there's a first time for everything) I doubted. In just a few simple steps, Snickers cravings, be gone.

For this recipe, you'll need:

For the base layer

65 grams pure maple syrup
240 grams almond butter (smooth is probably best here, but who's to say?)
8-10 tablespoons almond flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramel

180 grams pitted dates
90 grams almond butter
4-7 tablespoons warm water
4 tablespoons coconut oil

For the rest

1/2 cup peanuts, unsalted
400 grams dairy-free dark chocolate**

**Check your labels! I'm sure you are, but seriously, you'd be surprised how many dark chocolate varieties contain dairy. I've always liked working with this brand. Zero percent chance of dairy (or other common allergens)!

Begin by forming your base. In a medium bowl, mix together your maple syrup and almond butter. Add your salt and vanilla and stir to combine. Add your almond meal one tablespoon at a time until you achieve the correct consistency. What you're looking for is something akin to slightly thicker cake batter. Once you're there, line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer your mixture to the pan and spread in an even-ish layer about one inch thick. Transfer to the freezer to firm up (at least fifteen minutes).

Meanwhile, you can get started on your caramel. Though, if you're anything like me, don't get started on it too early or you may find yourself eating too much of it before it's time to assemble the bars. In the bowl of a food processor (or blender), add your dates, almond butter and coconut oil. Pulse together, about ten to twenty times. Next, add your water one tablespoon at a time until your mixture smooths out but remains thick.

Once your base has set, cut into even bars. How you do this is totally up to you. You can go with the traditional candy bar shape, squares, uneven and oblong blobs like I did. There are no rules, really. Once the base pieces are cut and you can live with the shape they are in, press a good amount (you'll just have to eyeball this one based on the shape of your bars) of peanuts onto the top of each bar. I pushed them down but not fully infused into the base. I figured this would help keep the tops slightly level which would help with the chocolate covering. Again, no rules.

Next, add a nice, thick layer of caramel to each bar. This part is fun. I felt like vegan Willy Wonka, with a lot less purple in my life. Also access to a chocolate river would have made coating these bars a whole lot easier.

Transfer your sheet pan back into the freezer for another fifteen minutes, minimum. The longer you can let them freeze, the easier the final step will be. But I waited fifteen minutes to the dot and I understand if you choose to do the same.

While you're waiting, you can get started on melting down your chocolate. There is, of course, the trusted double boiler method that will never let you down. There is also the 15-20 second increments in the microwave with a quick stir in between. This method has never failed me, either. To each their own (don't tell Martha and/or anyone else who would inevitably frown on this microwave method of mine).

When the chocolate is melted and the bars are frozen, quickly dip/coat each one in a layer of chocolate. After each bar is coated, transfer back to your parchment lined pan (you may need a new piece of paper; if so, flip it over: done!) and then back into the freezer for their final setting.

These will be ready in about 30 minutes and best in about an hour. I feel like if you make it the full hour you should go ahead and have two. Also, in my opinion, they seem to store best in the freezer. In the fridge or on the countertop, you risk that weird condensation on the chocolate that sort of kills my candy-eating vibe. Plus they don't ever fully harden, so what you end up with is a super nice, cold candy bar that won't break your teeth. Isn't that what every girl wants?

More candy? I thought you'd never ask:
This recipe inspired by the geniuses at The Happy Pear: thanks, guys!