Saturday, May 3, 2014

Gluten-Free No-Bake Date Nutella Bars

Tomorrow is the annual Sunday AP Euro Crash Course - the big pre-exam review session at which I attempt to pull thematic threads of European history from the Renaissance to the present in a last-ditch effort to bring all these facts back into my students' working memories.  Oh, and we eat a bunch of junk food to keep us going for three hours.  

Last year I got pretty creative with a set of four historically-themed mini muffins.  This year the most creative I could get was Nutella.  Because, like, Europe?

For a second I also tinkered with the idea of actually providing a healthy snack, like re-creating a granola or energy bar.  Some sort of brain food/bird food recipe.  Then I remembered that teenagers don't really give a damn about all that.  My zucchini muffins barely got touched last year.  But, in the process of searching for those healthier treats I did come across a raw caramel and peanut butter bar, which I modified (de-veganized and Europeanized (Nutella-ized)).  They are still gluten-free and no-bake, if those traits appeal to you.  If you want them vegan, use peanut butter instead of Nutella (as the original recipe suggests).  Most importantly, they taste fantastic. 

The bars come together very easily, and even more easily if you use melted chocolate chips for the top layer instead of the scratch-made coconut oil and cocoa topping.  Again, all depends on how many of the original vegan ingredients you want to hang on to.  The end result is a chewy crust (think Larabar) with a fudgy center and slightly firmer top layer of dark chocolate.  If you're making these for others, don't worry, there's plenty of empty jar and empty bowl-licking throughout the short process.

Ingredients (fills a 9x9" pan):
Thank you to Zakka for the original recipe inspiration. 

For the bottom layer:
  • 12 oz. pitted medjool dates
  • 6-8 oz. sliced almonds (depending on how crunchy or chewy you want the crust)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
For the middle layer:
  • 1/2 cup liquid/melted coconut oil
  • 13 oz. Nutella (you can use honey roasted peanut butter for a fully vegan recipe, or do half and half like I did)
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
For the top layer:
  • 1/4 cup liquid/melted coconut oil 
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder 
  • pinch of salt

Line a 9x9" baking pan with parchment or wax paper.  In a food processor, blend the almonds, dates, and salt until it holds together and is sticky.  Press this layer evenly into the lined baking pan.
For the middle layer, melt the coconut oil and mix with the nutella/peanut putter, maple syrup, vanilla, and sea salt in a bowl.  Spread evenly on top of the almonds and dates and cool in the refrigerator while you make the final layer.
Over a double boiler on low heat, melt the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla together.  Mix in the cocoa powder and salt until you have the consistency of melted chocolate.  You can feel free to just melt chocolate chips if you prefer.  I'm pretty sure you could easily do this step in the microwave if you just heated up the oil and stirred in the remaining ingredients.  Let this cool for a few minutes so it doesn't melt the middle layer when you add it to the pan.  Once cooled, spread it evenly over the top and return to the refrigerator or freezer to fully set.
Cut with a warm knife and serve slightly chilled.


  1. I saw these on Foodgawker and had to leave a comment…these look so creamy and delicious!

  2. These look delicious ... I love that its gluten free :)

  3. Oh wow, this looks so delicious! I LOVE Nutella (who doesnt!?) These look like the perfect treats - beautiful photography too :)

    1. thanks, Dearna! thankfully the recipe uses up the whole jar of nutella...I can't safely keep any around the house!

  4. Saw these on FG & just pinned - so delish looking!

  5. Ditto to the FG comments--looks absolutely gorgeous. I made a very similar no-bake fudgy bar last week with cocoa powder instead of Nutella and it was a total hit at the office; cannot wait to make these as well since I'm obsessed with date crusts and fudgy fillings! Pinned!

  6. Girl, why have you done this to me. I'm not going to be able to stop thinking about these until I make them!

  7. Would you recommend using regular peanut butter or all natural peanut butter? Thank you!

  8. Would you recommend using regular peanut butter or all natural peanut butter? Thank you!

  9. 3 Studies PROVE Why Coconut Oil Kills Waist Fat.

    This means that you literally get rid of fat by eating coconut fats (also coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 researches from big medicinal journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world around!