If you're looking for a treat that tastes like a treat, but also contains a load of wholesome and nutritious ingredients, you will love this recipe. These No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter bars are chewy, just sweet enough, and ideal for both snacks and easy desserts for everyone in the family—including the littlest ones.
A few years ago, I worked at a magazine that published a truly awesome trail bar recipe. The texture was perfectly chewy, they held up well at room temperature, and they were packed full of good-for-you ingredients. They did, however, require a load of sweetener, so I've been trying to revise the recipe ever since, all while maintaining the original texture. And finally, I got it!
These bars rely on peanut butter, a bit of dark chocolate, and brown rice syrup for their chewiness, and oats and puffed cereal for their Rice-Krispie-Treat-like crispiness. Here are a few notes on the ingredients since this recipe uses more unusual foods than most I share:
Brown rice syrup: I know that brown rice syrup isn't a pantry staple that most of us have in the house, but one jar will make two batches—and you can store it in the fridge until you're ready to make the second batch. (I haven't found a good substitution, so you really need to use it to have the best results.) Thrive Market has a good price on it, as does Vitacost.
Chocolate: You might be wondering about chocolate for toddlers—can they have it? There is 1 cup of dark chocolate chips in this recipe and the batch makes about 4 dozen servings. So if you break that down, you get just enough chocolate flavor without too much worry about caffeine or added sugar.
Peanut Butter: For whatever reason, peanut butter binds the best in this recipe. Sunbutter doesn't hold together as well, so this might not be a good option if you have a nut allergy in your house.
Puffed Flax: Puffed flax cereal from Enjoy Life Foods is usually available in the natural foods aisle of supermarkets. One box is what you need for this recipe. Can't find it? Use crispy rice cereal (like Rice Krispies) instead.
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Brown rice syrup might not be a pantry staple, but it helps these bars hold together with a chewy texture without adding too much sweetness. We typically have a few small bites for a snack or dessert. They firm up in the fridge, but are softer (while still holding their shape) at room temp.
Makes about 48
3 cups rolled oats
4 cups puffed flax cereal (or crispy rice cereal)
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving enough on the sides for you to lift the bars out of the pan. Mix the oats, cereal, and coconut in a large bowl. Add the chocolate chips, peanut butter, brown rice syrup, honey, and vanilla to a heat-proof bowl and heat in the microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth, stopping to stir. (It should take 1-2 minutes).
2. Pour the warm mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon, then use your (clean) hands to massage the ingredients together until well incorporated. Pour into pan, cover with a sheet of parchment, and use your hands to press down firmly and evenly. Chill for 20-30 minutes, use the parchment to remove from the pan, and slice into bars. Serve chilled (they will be firmer) or at room temperature.
To store: Wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and store in a zip top bag in the fridge for up to one month or in the freezer for up to 3 months.