These salted toffee bars are made even better by using as many healthier alternatives as possible to normal baking ingredients whenever possible. Dates, coconut milk, whole wheat flour, banana and maple syrup make this more wholesome than your typical pastry case confectionary.
When you love baking and sugar but have an inflammatory condition
Loving baking and having an inflammatory or chronic health condition are incongruous. Sugar, and all the fats and simple starches, in most baked goods have been known to cause or aggravate inflammation. Not to mention the inflammation of my waistline and thighs when I’ve been snacking on them all winter (ahem). I can admit, I should develop some more healthy baking habits. To support that (and healthier eating habits as a whole) I had purchased a number of vegan cookbooks in order to inspire some more plant-based kitchen adventures. One of these books, happens to have a fabulous recipe for caramel date bars that has become a favorite indulgence of mine. Using dates and coconut milk to make the topping provides natural sugars and fiber. The whole wheat flour, maple syrup, and banana make this more filling, less fattening, and more vitamin rich than a standard white flour-sugar-egg mix. Sort of makes sneaking that second helping a little silly doesn’t it? Go ahead and have another, it’s kind of good for you right?
Sticky Salted Date Toffee Peanut Butter Bars
Adapted from Kristy Turner’s But I Could Never Go Vegan! 125 Recipes, Zero Excuses
Turner, Kristy. “Salted Caramel Peanut Butter.” But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come over for Dinner, The Experiment, New York, NY, 2014, pp. 260–261.
For the salted date toffee:
- 7 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 3 tablespoons coconut milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the peanut butter bars:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 large banana, mashed
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with wax or parchment paper, allowing some to overhang on the sides so that you can lift the bars from the pan later.
- In a food processor or blender, combine the dates, coconut milk, and salt and blend until smooth. I used a bowl and an immersion blender to do mine and that worked great and let me go after the dates that were attempting to evade getting pureed.
- In a large bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, and pinch of salt. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the banana, peanut butter, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla extract. Slowly combine the flour mixture into the banana peanut butter mixture until all ingredients have been incorporated.
- Spread the super thick peanut-butter-cookie-like-dough-batter into the baking dish and press evenly into the dish.
- Drop spoonfuls of the toffee mixture onto the bar mixture in the baking dish until the entire top is covered with blobs of toffee. Evenly smoosh the toffee out across the top of the peanut butter bars. Run a butter knife through the topping only in alternating directions to create the marbled texture to the top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before using the paper to lift out of the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 16 squares