To be perfectly honest, peanut butter and jam sandwiches are basically my worst nightmare. There is something about the lack of texture and overly sweet flavor that even at the age of 4, had me running for the hills. So with that in mind, I created this recipe with the idea that I would have a bite or two just to make sure the flavours were ok and then give the remainder away to friends. In theory it was a great idea, but fast-forward 5 days and I had somehow managed to eat every last bar.
These bars are so amazingly good. The base is made from salted peanuts, dates and coconut and is slightly chewy, salty and sweet. The middle layer is full of peanut butter flavor and is so smooth and creamy that it will take a lot of convincing to make people believe they are dairy and refined sugar free (SA still doesn’t believe me). They are then topped with a thin layer of refreshing strawberry puree and crunchy salt peanuts.
You can eat these bars frozen straight from the freezer, but I prefer to let them sit for a few minutes so the filling softens and the strawberry puree begins to melt and run down the sides. These bars will last at least a month in your freezer, so you can cut them into small squares and then grab one when you are in need of something to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you are following a Paleo diet or are allergic to peanuts, I think that almonds and almond butter could be substituted for the peanuts with very similar results, although the flavor will be slightly richer.
- 1½ cups dates
- 1 cup peanuts *, toasted
- 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ cups peanuts * (soaked for minimum 4 hours but preferably overnight)
- 1 cup cashews (soaked for minimum 4 hours but preferably overnight)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ⅔ cup peanut butter (sugar free)*
- 1 tbsp honey (or other sweetener)
- 2 tbsp almond milk
- 1½ cup strawberries
- 1 tsp honey (or other sweetener)
- ¼ cup toasted peanuts, chopped
- In a food processor combine the dates, toasted peanuts, shredded coconut and salt and blend until the peanuts and dates have broken down into a crumbly texture and have formed a ball. Make sure there are no large pieces of nut.
- Line an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Firmly press the peanut and date mixture into the base of the baking sheet making sure its distributed into the corners and is even in thickness throughout (should be approximately ½ inch in thickness). Push firmly to ensure its tightly packed together.
- In a food processor combine all of the ingredients for the middle filling and blend until the nuts have completely broken down and formed a smooth mixture. Make sure that there are no small chunks, continue to blend for a few minutes until its completely smooth and creamy.
- Pour the filling mixture into the baking dish, covering the base. Place the baking dish in the freezer and leave to set.
- Combine the strawberries and honey in a food processor and blend until it forms a thick puree.
- Once the peanut butter squares are frozen to the point of being firm to the touch on top, pour the strawberry puree overtop and return the dish to the freezer. It should take a minimum of 2-3 hours for the bars to completely freeze through.
- Before serving, use the parchment paper to lift the large block out of the baking dish. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and cut into small squares. You can serve immediately or let them sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the bars to become softer (the strawberry topping may begin to melt and run down the sides). Enjoy!