These chickpea no-bake gluten-free peanut butter bars are not only Vegan but they are also chock full of good, healthy ingredients that will make everyone feel terrific after eating them!
Almost everyone has a favorite treat from their school days. One of my favorites was those really unhealthy, but so rich peanut butter bars with a layer of chocolate on top.
I bet you know the ones I'm talking about! Biting into that crunch of chocolate just before the rich peanut butter layer was the best thing ever. I thought the cafeteria ladies who made them were magical.
We didn't have them often, which is just as well now that I know they're not very healthy. Even if I did know at the time, I wouldn't have cared. They were my favorite school-day treat. I remember daydreaming about being grown up and making them whenever I wanted.
Now that I am grown up, I really do make peanut butter bars any old time I want. And it's as great as I thought it would be. I know school-age me would be shocked at one of the ingredients I use in my bars, though - chickpeas!
Adding chickpeas to sweets sounded odd when I was new to cooking healthy. Now that I've had more experience, chickpeas are the base ingredient in lots of my favorite all-natural treats. Ground up, they can add texture similar to crushed graham crackers, moist brownies, and even fudge.
And these are gluten-free, fat-free and a great source of fiber and protein. As much as I loved those old-school peanut butter bars, they don't provide the wholesome nutrition I want for my family. My kids love the version I make, and I feel good about the ingredients they're made with.
Most "normal" peanut butter bar recipes call for cups and cups of sugar, plus plenty of butter, sweetened peanut butter, and sugary chocolate chips. Lots of them use regular flour, too. They're ingredients I grew up with, but now I look for other options. Treats don't need to be loaded with sugar and gluten to be yummy.
The family says they're definitely sweet enough, but I have a powerful sweet tooth. I like to add ½ a teaspoon of powdered stevia leaf or liquid stevia concentrate to both the cookie part and the chocolate topping.
It doesn't add a bunch of extra calories, it's all-natural, and it makes them REALLY sweet. Half a teaspoon of powdered stevia is all it takes to add as much sweetness as a half cup of sugar.
I make my bars a little thicker than the ones we had in school, which helps them hold together well. I usually use either an 8 or 9-inch square pan, and the bars come out about an inch thick. You can go a little larger to make them more in the classic school style. A 13 by 9-inch baking dish makes them thinner, but still thick enough to be sturdy.
The chocolate topping recipe is a keeper on its own. You can chill it in molds to make candies, and use it to top or dip all kinds of treats. One of my favorite ways to use it is to coat frozen bananas. It's amazing how much that tastes like an ice cream bar, and it's healthy!
I've tried quite a few clean homemade chocolate recipes from blogs and online recipe collections. I find they're all pretty similar. The chocolate topping I'm sharing in this recipe reflects my own tastes, which are a little on the sweet side. To be sure the topping is right for you, add the sweetener a tablespoon at a time and then taste. You can always add more if you need to.
One thing I have noticed about homemade Clean chocolate is once in a while the sweetener sinks to the bottom and doesn't incorporate well with the coconut oil. The times I've had that happen the coconut oil was very warm and completely liquid.
To avoid that problem I make sure my coconut oil is at room temperature before I stir in the sweetener, cocoa, etc. I've read that some people wait until the oil is just barely starting to set and thicken before adding other ingredients.
I've never tried that, but it sounds like a sure-fire way to make your chocolate turn out great. If you give it a try, leave a comment and let me know how your Vegan peanut butter bars turned out!Print
These are full of good ingredients, like dates, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, oats, and natural sugars. I like to make this flourless dessert for my children because they love them and I'm not worried about them eating unhealthy ingredients.
- 1 cup dates (pitted)
- ½ cup water
- a 15 oz. can chickpeas (drained)
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- ¾ tsp Real Salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 ¾ cup natural peanut butter (divided)
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup clean liquid sweetener like maple syrup (honey or brown rice syrup )
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tbs coconut oil (melted)
- ¾ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup + 2 Tbs cocoa
- ⅓ cup any clean liquid sweetener
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- Combine the dates and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes, or until the dates soften.
- Drain any excess water and scoop the dates into a food processor fitted with an "s" or chopping blade.
- Add the chickpeas, old-fashioned oats, salt and cinnamon.
- Process about five minutes, or until the mixture starts to look smooth and the oats are evenly mixed in.
- Scrape into a large mixing bowl and stir in the peanut butter, coconut sugar, liquid sweetener, vanilla and coconut oil.
- Line a pan with parchment paper. Use an 8" x 8" or 9" x 9" for thick bars, or a 9" x 13" for thinner bars.
- Press the mixed dough firmly into the pan and freeze 10 minutes. Spread ¾ cup peanut butter over the dough and return to freezer.
- To make the chocolate topping, melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat.
- As soon as it's mostly melted, remove from heat and stir in the rest of the chocolate topping ingredients.
- Pour the topping over the peanut butter layer and freeze 20 minutes before cutting into bars.
- Store the bars covered in the freezer. They cut easily even when frozen. They keep at least two weeks.
Keywords: No-Bake, Flourless, Healthy, No Sugar Added