This is my dream dessert. In these Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Bars, peanut butter is used along with Medjool dates and coconut sugar to create a silky and delicious date caramel that rests on a shortbread crust. To top everything all off — how could I forget it? — chocolate! A dark chocolate coating brings both the crisp shortbread layer and caramel layer together to create a bar that will probably visit you in your dreams. While this dessert is decadent, every single layer uses all real ingredients, also making it perfectly acceptable afternoon sweet treat whenever you need a pick-me-up.
Technique tip: Line your pan with parchment paper and create flaps along the side to allow for easy removal from the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare an 8-inch square pan by lining it with parchment paper. Ensure that some of the parchment paper hangs over onto the sides of the pan so you can easily lift up the bars when you're ready to enjoy them.
For the shortbread crust:
In a medium bowl, combine the coconut oil and honey, and mix until smooth. Add the almond and coconut flour. Fold together until everything is fully incorporated and you have a nice malleable dough. Press the shortbread dough into the parchment paper-lined pan and pack it in tightly, flattening it with your hands until the crust is evenly distributed throughout. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are nice and golden-brown. Let it cool completely in the pan.
For the peanut butter-caramel filling:
In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine the dates, coconut oil, coconut sugar, salt, almond milk and peanut butter. Blend until completely smooth. Try not to eat the entire thing.
For the chocolate layer:
Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in the microwave in 10 second increments, stirring after each increment, until the mixture is melted and glossy.
Once the shortbread crust has completely cooled, pour the Peanut Butter-Caramel Filling over it and smooth it with the back of a spoon until it reaches the edges and is evenly distributed throughout the pan. Place in the freezer and chill for 30 minutes for the caramel to firm up.2.
Remove the pan from the freezer and pour the chocolate on top until it completely coats the caramel. Sprinkle with some flaky salt and place the pan in the freezer once again. Freeze for 1 hour, until the chocolate has completely hardened.3.
Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the parchment paper flaps. Cut into bars and serve finished with extra flaky salt, if desired. Store any extra in the freezer for up to a week.