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Ditch the Snickers — these homemade candy bars are a healthier alternative

You’ve seen the commercials for Snickers bars: “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Well, if you’re hungry and craving a Snickers — but wanting something a little healthier than a processed candy bar — this recipe for better-for-you homemade Snickers bars will be your saving grace.

This simple recipe has three layers of goodness that makes it perfect for an after-dinner treat, to make in big batches for parties, or as a candy dupe to celebrate a holiday like Halloween. Just like Snickers, they have a chocolate-y outer layer, a gooey caramel filling, and a hearty base of nougat — plus, the satisfying crunch of nuts.

The best part: It’s made with good-for-you ingredients and is paleo-friendly, if you’re into that. In fact, they pack almost 3 grams of fibre, which is a solid step toward the recommended 25 grams per day, and also have about half the amount of sugar found in a classic Snickers (16 grams vs 29). Plus, since they’re made with almonds and almond butter, they’re a great option for people with peanut allergies.

Here’s a breakdown of the homemade candy’s three layers and their simple ingredients, each of which have their own health perks. The nougat contains:

  • Almonds: One ounce of these nuts is an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin E and a good source of fibre, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. Almonds also provide the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, which are shown to help prevent cancer growth and decrease the risk for heart disease.
  • Dates: Pitted dates are a wonderful way to naturally sweeten desserts, plus they contain over 16 nutrients, including B-vitamins, potassium, manganese, calcium, fibre, and magnesium. Dates also provide powerful antioxidants (including carotenoids, polyphenols, and anthocyanins), which help fight free radicals (unstable molecules that cause cell damage).
  • Vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract adds flavour without many calories and helps create that nougat flavour.

To make the caramel, you just need:

  • Almond butter: Using almond butter compliments the raw almonds that are used in the nougat and topped over the bars. It also melts nicely over heat and is perfect for this caramel layer.
  • Blackstrap molasses: This dark, gooey, slightly bitter sweetener is made from sugarcane or beet juice that’s been boiled down three times and is the most concentrated form of molasses, leaving it with more nutrients.
  • Coconut oil: This paleo-friendly fat is added to this layer to help give the caramel a nice mouthfeel. The saturated fat in coconut oil is mostly lauric acid, which appears to have a more neutral effect on heart health compared to the saturated fats found in meats and dairy products.

And to make the chocolate layer, you simply combine:

  • Chocolate: To be paleo-friendly, use vegan or non-dairy dark chocolate. If you’re not paleo, you can use milk, semisweet, or dark chocolate.
  • Coconut oil: This fat melts nicely together with the chocolate and gives it a good consistency.

That’s right — you only need seven ingredients (plus some pantry staples) to make your own incredible homemade candy. Word of warning, though: Once you make these, you may never go back to store-bought again.

Homemade Healthy “Snickers” Bars

Homemade candy bar
Credit: Toby Amidor

Makes: 14 bars
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 4 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Line an 8-by-8-inch glass baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place 1 cup of almonds, dates, water, and vanilla extract in a blender and pulse until combined and the mixture has a thick, sticky consistency. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking pan and, using clean hands, press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Place the baking pan in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Place almond butter, molasses, and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk the mixture until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Set the saucepan aside to slightly cool for several minutes.
  4. Remove the baking pan from the freezer and spoon the almond butter mixture evenly over the top. Using the back of a spoon, gently press the layer onto the previous layer. Place the baking pan in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes until the layer has solidified.
  5. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup of almonds and sea salt.
  6. Place chocolate chips and remaining coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate in the microwave on high for 60 seconds, stirring halfway to combine. Drizzle melted chocolate over the top layer. Slightly tilt the pan to spread the chocolate evenly over the top. Place the baking pan back into the freezer and allow to set for 1 to 2 hours.
  7. Remove the baking pan from the freezer. Remove the bars from the baking pan by gently pulling out the parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, slice into about 14 pieces.
  8. Bars can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap or airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to 1 week. Alternatively, bars can be stored in a single layer in a resealable container in the freezer for up to 2 months.

This story first appeared on www.shape.com

(Main and Feature Image Credit: Toby Amidor)

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