Silky smooth dark chocolate sitting on a creamy, coconutty layer of peanut butter and a chocolatey oat base. These Peanut Butter "Coffee" Squares are made from all natural ingredients, contain just the right amount of sweetness and are gluten, free, dairy-free and vegan!
These Peanut Butter "Coffee" Squares are a peanut butter lover's dream. In fact, that chocolate and peanut butter combination is unbeatable - how can you not love it?
To add an extra depth of flavour, the "coffee" (which is actually just roasted chicory root) is used and this, in my humble opinion, elevates the squares to the next level. All those flavours together, along with the creaminess of the middle layer, the soft crunch of the base and the salty, chocolatey goodness on top work together so perfectly to create an insanely delicious, extremely addictive no-bake dessert or snack.
What's the deal with chicory?
Roasted chicory "coffee" is a coffee alternative made from the roots of a chicory plant, which are roasted, ground and formed into coffee-like granules that can dissolve in hot water and be consumed as a hot drink.
It's taste is obviously quite similar to coffee, but it has slightly nutty tones to it.
Chicory root contains manganese and vitamin B6 - nutrients that help promote brain health, and it's also a great source of the prebiotic fibre (insulin), which feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut and hence helps reduce inflammation and promote mineral absorption.
Overall, it makes a great alternative to coffee if you're trying to cut down or you're sensitive to it, and it works especially well in these Peanut Butter Bars. They actually do taste like there's coffee in them! Of course, if you want to use coffee instead you totally can...just swap out the chicory for the same amount of ground coffee. Alternatively, you can skip both of these out completely and just make Peanut Butter Squares.
Chicory can be purchased online or in many health food shops. I love the organic roasted chicory drink by Prewetts as 1) it's organic (duh) and 2) it's gluten-free. Pay attention to the labels on chicory drinks as some do contain barley, which isn't gluten-free.
Squares loaded with clean, natural ingredients
As with the majority of my recipes, I love using clean, nourishing and all natural ingredients, especially when it comes to sweet treats. These squares are packed with ingredients great for the mind and body:
Raw organic cacao powder and dark chocolate - cacao is full of flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. To reap the benefits of dark chocolate, it's best to pick one that contains 70% cacao or more and one that does not have sugar listed as the first ingredient.
Gluten-free oat flour - high in manganese, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Oats are also rich in Beta-Glucan - a soluble fibre known to increase the growth of good bacteria in the gut, and reduce blood sugar and insulin response.
Cacao nibs - as well as containing cacao, cacao nibs are bitter. Bitter foods help the liver to produce bile, which helps the body break down fats so they are better absorbed. They also aid the body's absorption of essential nutrients like iron and vitamin B12.
Coconut oil - a great source of healthy fats.
Natural peanut butter - a good source of healthy fats (if eaten in moderation), protein and vitamin E. When I say 'natural' peanut butter, I mean one that contains just roasted peanuts - no sugar, salt or hydrogenated oils. Rule of thumb: try and pick one that contains the least amount of ingredients.
Give them a boost of protein
If you want to increase the protein content of these squares, you can swap the oat flour that is used in the peanut butter layer with a protein powder of your choice.
Peanut Butter "Coffee" Squares (GF, DF, Ve)
Makes: 12 squares
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes (including setting time)
For the chocolate oat crust:
160g gluten-free oat flour
15g raw organic cacao powder
2 1/2 tsp roasted chicory granules
100g crunchy peanut butter, melted
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the peanut butter layer:
225g smooth peanut butter
2 cans full-fat coconut milk (creamy parts only)
4 tbsp maple syrup
50g gluten-free oat flour
1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the chocolate layer:
80g dark chocolate
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp smooth peanut butter, melted
1. To make the oat crust, mix together the dry ingredients and then add in the wet ingredients and mix until a dough forms. Alternatively, blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a square baking tin lined with parchment paper and press down evenly.
2. For the peanut butter layer, add all of the ingredients to a saucepan and heat over a medium-low heat until the coconut milk has completely melted and the mixture becomes thick. Immediately remove from the heat to prevent the peanut butter from burning. The mixture might start to separate but don't worry, this will get fixed in the freezer.
3. Pour the peanut butter layer over the oat crust and spread evenly. Place in the freezer to set for 45 minutes-1 hour.
4. For the chocolate layer, melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil over a bain-marie. Once it has melted, remove the squares from the freezer and pour the melted chocolate all over. Use a spatula to spread it evenly but act fast as the chocolate will set quickly. Add dollops of peanut butter on top of the melted chocolate and use a toothpick or knife to carve out a marble pattern. Top with flaked salt and cacao nibs. Return to the freezer for 10 minutes and then remove, cut into squares and enjoy!
I hope you love this recipe!
These squares can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or you can store them in the freezer. Tip: Storing them in the freezer gives them an ice-cream-like texture - perfect for days when the sun is shining. If you do store them in the freezer, allow to thaw for 10 minutes or so before eating.