Sweet and chewy date caramel base.
Fudge-like peanut butter layer.
Rich chocolate coating.
A sprinkling of roasted peanuts.
Delectable candy bark that tastes a whole lot like everyone's favorite peanut-laden, caramel-stuffed, chocolate-coated candy bar (i.e., Snickers). I suppose these could officially be classified as something in between candy bark and candy bars but for clarity's sake, let's stick with bark.
Checkout the chocolate on those triangles...
To make these layered bites of heaven, you'll start by making a batch of date caramel. You'll add pitted medjool dates to a food processor, pulse several times, and then give them a steady run around your food processor. Dates have a tendency to ball up as they're processed, so it helps to occasionally stop the food processor and nudge things around to ensure that there aren't any lingering date pieces. Then, you'll add in a few spoonfuls of peanut butter, a splash of vanilla, and a generous pinch of sea salt, and give it another whirl until everything is evenly dispersed.
Line an 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper and scoop that thick, sticky date caramel into it. Use a spatula to smooth and press the caramel into an even layer across the bottom of the pan, and pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes to set.
Then, whip up that fudgy peanut butter layer by whisking together peanut butter, coconut oil, pure maple syrup, and sea salt in a double boiler or bain marie. Once the mixture is smooth and glossy, pour it over the chilled layer of date caramel. Tip the pan back-and-forth to evenly coat the surface and return to the pan to the freezer to set.
Meanwhile, melt a generous heap of dark chocolate and a small spoonful of coconut oil together until perfectly smooth and glossy. Pour it over that fudge-like peanut butter layer, and tip the pan back-and-forth to even coat the surface in chocolate.
Then, sprinkle on a generous handful of chopped roasted peanuts and return the pan to the freezer just one last time. Patience truly is a virtue at this point.
Once the chocolate layer is completely set, gently grasp the parchment paper and lift the bar out of the pan. Place it on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut the bar up into small squares or triangles.
Store the bark in the refrigerator to maintain the most delectable, crave-worthy texture. When chilled, the caramel is thick and chewy, the peanut butter layer is dense and fudgy, and the chocolate coating has the most delicate snap to it. Perfection.
Vegan Caramel, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Bark
- 1 ½ cups pitted and packed sticky medjool dates
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Fudgy Peanut Butter Layer
- ¼ cup natural peanut butter
- 1 ½ tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- ¾ cup chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, or roughly-chopped quality dark chocolate
- 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil
- ⅓ cup shelled and roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
For the Caramel Layer
- Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
- Add the dates to the food processor. Process until the mixture is roughly smooth. Dates have a tendency to ball up as they process, so pulse and stop to break up the ball as needed to achieve a smooth date caramel. Add in the peanut butter, vanilla, and sea salt, and process for another 30 seconds or until smooth and incorporated.
- Spoon the mixture into the lined baking pan and use your fingers or a spatula to press the "caramel" into an even layer across the bottom of the pan. It takes a few minutes and a bit of patience to spread the caramel out to the edges in an even layer, but just keep at it. If the mixture is sticking to your fingers, lightly dampen them with water to repel the caramel.
- Transfer the pan to the freezer for 10 minutes to set.
For the Fudgy Peanut Butter Layer
- Meanwhile, make the peanut butter layer by whisking together the peanut butter, coconut oil, and pure maple syrup in a double boiler or bain marie until smooth and glossy. Pour over the.caramel layer, tilting the pan back-and-forth to evenly coat. Return the freezer for 15 minutes or until the peanut butter layer is completely set.
For the Chocolate Layer
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler or bain marie over low heat until smooth and glossy, whisking occasionally.
- Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts (if using), and pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer and tilt the pan back and forth to coat the surface. Freeze for at least 15 minutes or until the chocolate is completely set. (Note: you'll want to move quickly with this step so you don't give the warm chocolate time to melt the peanut butter layer.)
- Slice into small squares or triangles. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator or freezer.