Chocolate-Topped Peanut Butter Bars – Healthy, No Bake & Gluten-Free
After we’re back from a vacation, I always find myself trying to hold on to a piece of it, checking the weather, reading the local news from wherever we’ve just been. After our trip to Tofino in August, I’ve found myself checking the Long Beach Lodge Resort’s Web cam with a view of the beach and Cox Bay and trying to recreate the chocolate-topped protein bars they serve as part of their complimentary continental breakfast. But calling them protein bars really sells them short. Would you believe me if I told you they taste good and they’re actually pretty healthy?
You remember those Reese’s-like peanut butter bars they used to serve as part of school lunch? Arguably, the only edible thing on the yellow divided tray? These are those bars, but better. Healthier. We had them at breakfast, but these can easily be dessert.
So the Long Beach Lodge Resort…it has a fantastic location with a gorgeous beach and dog-friendly accommodations. Last summer we stayed in a cottage with 2 beds, 2 baths and a small kitchen. It’s nice for a little more privacy and space, but this year, with just H. along for the trip, we opted for a beachfront room, which offered direct access to the beach, and to the gorgeous sunsets. All the sunsets in my earlier post are from the beach at Long Beach Lodge Resort.
Included in your room rate is a complementary continental breakfast in the Great Room, which along with Lavazza coffee and Tofino Tea Bar tea, features cinnamon rolls, fruit salad, various muffins, scones and toast, proper oatmeal, and these wheat-free peanut butter bars.
While there, I tried to deconstruct the bars through taste and guessed almond butter (wrong) and maybe oats (also wrong). I made a batch with similar ingredients after a quick Google, but it was nothing like the LBLR bars. Luckily, they were kind enough to share the recipe. This adaptation scales it down to a size manageable for a home cook, while reducing the amount of butter.
A couple of tips:
1. An offset spatula would have been incredibly useful for getting a really smooth top, but I made do with a regular rubber spatula. In the pan, it may look like a little crazy, but get an even layer, and once you cut the bars, it’s fine.
2. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars and wipe it off between cuts to ensure clean slices.
3. Grind the sunflower seeds well to get a texture closer to the ones in the photo from our breakfast. I kept them a little more chunky, and you can see the resulting texture in my photos.
4. A 1/4 sheet pan is ideal for this, but if all you’ve got is an 8×8, that’ll work, too. The bars will just be thicker.
- 1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 c. peanut butter
- 1 t. lime zest
- ¼ c. maple syrup
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (save the pod for vanilla sugar)
- 2 c. almond meal
- 1 c. sunflower seeds, ground
- 1 c. flax seeds, ground
- 1 c. unsweetened coconut, toasted
- ½ an apple, cored and grated (any variety)
- 1 3.5 oz bar 71% cacao chocolate (Valrhona)
- ½ c. heavy cream
- Line a ¼ sheet pan (or 8×8 baking pan) with parchment and set aside.
- In a double boiler, combine butter, peanut butter, lime zest, maple syrup and vanilla bean seeds. Stir until homogenous.
- In a large bowl, stir together almond meal, ground sunflower seeds, ground flax, coconut and apple. Stir peanut butter mixture in to the dry ingredients until combined. Press into the sheet pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes until set.
- Once the bars have set, Clean the double boiler and combine chocolate and cream to make a ganache. Pour the ganache over the bars and smooth to create an even layer. Refrigerate for 1 hour until the ganache is set.
- Cut into 1 in. squares and serve.