This recipe is a super-decadent, vegan, and gluten-free version of my favorite childhood candy bar: twix! Vegan and gluten-free homemade twix bars, to be exact. Anything with caramel is a win in my book, but there's something extra special about that particular combination. The buttery shortbread layered with caramel and coated in rich, creamy chocolate? Make it stop.
There are plenty of great vegan and gluten-free twix bar recipes out there, but trust me when I tell you that this one is different. Most require either lots of processed sugars, starches, and gums or involve date caramel. I love date caramel and it has an appropriate place and time, but I knew there had to be a better way to create a vegan, gluten-free twix bar.
Since accidentally creating this 5-minute, 5-ingredient vegan caramel last spring, I've been incorporating it into any and every dessert recipe that I can. It's so simple to make and amazingly delicious. I've also tested it on about 50+ non-vegans, and everyone is shocked when they find out it's made from coconut oil, pure maple syrup, and almond butter.
Although the caramel portion of these twix bars was easy to figure out, the crust had me stumped for quite some time. How do you create a vegan and gluten-free shortbread that doesn't involve butter or highly-processed ingredients?
Although it took more recipe testing than I'm used to, this crust was completely worth the extra work. This is a dense, buttery shortbread with no butter or white flour in sight. Instead, just five ingredients -- oats, coconut flour, coconut oil, pure maple syrup, and vanilla extract -- create a crust that's dangerously addictive.
The oats are processed into a flour in a food processor and then gently mixed with the coconut flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. The mixture is pressed into a rectangular tart pan and baked for a quick 13-15 minutes. After a bit of cooling time, that dreamy caramel from up above is poured over the crust like so...
Last but never least: chocolate. With just three ingredients -- raw cacao powder, coconut oil, and pure maple syrup -- this is the easiest of all the layers. You'll simply melt everything together in a pan and pour that richness right over the chilled caramel layer. Check it out...
After a small amount of set time in your freezer, you'll slice that gigantic bar into squares or twix-like shapes and sink your teeth into a caramel-chocolate-shortbread abyss. The leftovers can be stored in your refrigerator or even frozen for later. These are the perfect Halloween candy, and they'll please both your tastebuds and your body with their flavorful goodness.
Homemade Twix Bars | Vegan, Gluten-Free
For the Shortbread Crust
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- ½ cup melted coconut oil (measure it after it's melted)
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Caramel Layer
- ½ cup raw creamy unsalted almond butter
- ½ cup pure maple syrup (I use Grade B)
- ⅓ cup virgin coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
For the Chocolate Layer
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- ½ cup virgin coconut oil
- 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
To Make the Shortbread Crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the rolled oats to a food processor and process for 3-4 minutes or until a fine flour is formed.
- Add the oat flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl. Gently mix with a spatula until incorporated.
- Grease a 9x13 rectangular tart pan with coconut oil. Transfer the crust mixture to the pan. Using your hands, press the mixture evenly into the pan. Use a fork to poke 8-10 holes in the crust to allow it to vent as it bakes. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
To Make the Caramel
- Add the almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and sea salt to a small saucepan. Whisk together over medium low heat until all ingredients are melted together (approximately 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Once the crust has cooled completely, pour the caramel over top and use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
- Transfer the tart pan to the freezer for 25 minutes to set the caramel layer.
To Make the Chocolate Layer
- Add the raw cacao powder, coconut oil, and maple syrup to a small sauce pan over low heat. Whisk together constantly until all ingredients are melted together.
- Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer and use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
- Return the tart pan to the freezer for 25 minutes to set the chocolate layer.
- Pop the large "twix bar" out of the tart pan and transfer to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut* the bar into squares or twix-shaped bars. The crust is dense and can be tricky to cut after it's been in the freezer, so be careful and patient.
- Store the bars in the refrigerator.