Sep 27, 2011
Healthy Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Shortbread Bars
What??? Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Shortbread Bars can be healthy?!?
Yes! A butter-free “shortbread” crust comprised of whole grain oats, honey and natural protein powder … a soft PB filling that is to die for, using natural peanut butter … a delicious, thick dark chocolate peanutty layer to top it all off.
Are you salivating yet?
But you know me, it took a few trials to get these bars just right. Ah, and so we begin:
When we’re talkin peanut butter and chocolate, I don’t think anyone could go wrong there 🙂 Just because these bars were sticky and gooey, they were still mighty delicious! These bars did not have a shortbread crust because I thought of adding it the second time around. Oh, and clearly. . . there was not. enough. chocolate.
I was really surprised that the shortbread actually turned out like shortbread! It was crumbly, just like real shortbread cookies are. But, the crust came out thicker than I expected, almost as thick as the peanut butter filling! In the next trial the shortbread crust recipe will be cut in half.
As for the peanut butter filling, I was imagining a soft texture. Unfortunately, it was hard, dry and crumbly. I think the dryness factor was because of the brown rice syrup, which is a lot thicker than honey, so in the next trial honey will be used instead.
And finally, the chocolate topping. It looked good, the texture was great, but the taste was awful–I used 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate mixed with 2 tbs of peanut butter and and 20 drops of stevia extract, and not even that could rid the bitterness from the chocolate! Plus, right after making the bars, I remembered that I was using whey protein concentrate (a milk product) in the peanut butter filling, rendering the 100% cacao chocolate useless antioxidant-wise. So in the next trial, 60% cacao chocolate will be used for a much more pleasant taste.
YUMMM! I don’t think the word “delicious” can even begin to describe these cute little baby bites! The “buttery” vanilla shortbread, the soft peanutty filling, the smooth chocolatey topping, mmmm. . . much better than the previous trials–no dryness, no bitterness, no sticky peanut butter layer! Although (for some reason) while I halved the shortbread crust recipe, I didn’t half the salt. So, apart from the salty crust I made, I have no complaints! Well, I might have one. Dare I say, I think these bars had too much chocolate?
I heard you gasp! But don’t cover your ears screen, please! Let me explain! Even though the chocolate added a good bite to the bars, I felt it was too strong and detracted from the peanut butter flavor. I think that the 4oz of chocolate I used should be reduced to 3oz, or maybe even 2oz?
Oh no, should I retract that statement? Should I expect some hate mail from the chocolate-lovers out there?
No, I don’t think I’ll get hate mail. These bars are just. too. good. They have the perfect balance of flavors with optimum nutrition!
Healthy Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Shortbread Bars (no bake, high protein, gluten free)
- 96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a flour
- 48g (1+1/2 scoops) Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 105g (5 tbs) Brown Rice Syrup
- 28g (2 tbs) Coconut Oil
- 1/2 tsp Hazelnut Extract (or vanilla extract)
- 1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
- 1/4 tsp Butter Extract
Peanut Butter Filling:
- 256g (1 cup) Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
- 189g (1/2 cup + 1 tbs) Honey or Agave
- 1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
- 96g (3 scoops) Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
- 2-4oz 60% Cacao Chocolate (2oz if you like chocolate, 4oz if you love it to the point where you'd marry it)
- 32g (2 tbs) Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
- 20 drops Stevia Extract
For the Shortbread Crust:
- Line a square brownie pan with parchment paper both ways for easy removal later.
- Mix together the blended oats, protein powder and salt, then add in the brown rice syrup, coconut oil and extracts. Stir until everything is incorporated and even (you can use a hand mixer and a large bowl if you like)
- Press the mixture down into the brownie pan until every corner is even in height. This batter makes just enough to fit the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, or until firm and dry.
For the Peanut Butter Filling:
- In a large bowl, add the peanut butter, honey/agave and stevia extract and stir. Add in the protein powder and pinch of salt and stir until combined (you can use a hand mixer for this too). It should look like a big, soft blob of peanut butter play-doh.
- Press this onto the shortbread crust until even in height. I would suggest using a pastry roller if you have one, but I used a rubber spatula. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, or until firm.
For the Chocolate Topping:
- Break up the chocolate into pieces, and microwave at thirty second intervals until melted.
- Add the peanut butter and stir in until melted and incorporated.
- Add the stevia extract five drops at a time, stirring after every 5 drops.
- Pour the mixture over the peanut butter layer (if the chocolate is too hot, let it cool a little bit) and spread until even. Refrigerate until the chocolate has just barely hardened, then take it out and slice (this allows the chocolate so slice in nice lines rather than break, which happened to me because I refrigerated it overnight and then sliced them). Store in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap.
- To serve, take out of the refrigerator to soften for 10 minutes, EAT!
These are best eaten close to room temp. The fork slides easily into the bar and you get all three flavors in one scrumptious bite! When they are eaten right out of the fridge, the layers will separate on you . . . it's not like I know that from copious experience or anything, because I'm super patient... that was sarcasm.
This recipe is: no bake, high fiber, high protein, gluten free!
Mmmm . . . deliciousness! “I’ll just have one more” you say.
Oh, those famous last words…