Using only five simple ingredients these no-bake peanut butter and jelly chocolate fudge bars are a healthy vegan and gluten-free snack or dessert. The rich topping makes them irresistible.
What. a. name. Yes, I’m aware it’s a mouthful to read and say but I promise they’re deserving of every single letter. In other words: SO good. Inspired by Ronan Keating I’m tempted to say that regarding these bars it’d best to say nothing at all [and let the picures do the talking]. Or nothing but: yes, you want and need these in your life. Unless you happen to have a peanut allergy, tnat is. However, if you knew me you’d also know I’m not good at saying nothing at all.
The making – or rather: naming – of these bars unexpectedly became an educational matter. Story time: when I first made these No-Bake Chocolate Fudge Brownies and brought them to work I had to learn that one of my colleagues is allergic to nuts the worst way. Think: she ate one and asked me mid-bite if they might contain nuts. I felt so sorry despite her not blaming me. Here’s the deal: nut allergies are by far not common around here. Peanut butter bans in schools? Unheard of.
As I felt sorry for my colleague missing out not only on the brownies but these blondies, too, yet was on a roll with the no-bake bars I did some research. Peanut is my favourite kind of ‘butter’ and not actually a nut* but a member of the legume family. Wait … Wouldn’t these bars be nut-free using peanuts? Long story short: I decided against labeling them as such to avoid confusion but happily learned they were suitable for my colleague.Nut allergies are somehow fascinating – though obviously a huge bummer for those suffering from them – in how much they differ from person to person.
*Honestly, as much as I like legumes – both the word and the food group – peanuts will forever be nuts in my heart.
Okay, back to the bars. Do you prefer brownies or blondies? If we were looking at the baked variety I’d always be team brownie. But with these no-bake slices I’ve found I slightly prefer the blonde version. It’s the same with bars: dried fruit mixed with cocoa simply isn’t my favourite. Not bad enough to skip out on the brownies but … And really: who can resist dates mixed with peanut butter? It’s such a good combination. Studding this base with the diamond-like-looking cranberries and adding a rich and creamy chocolate topping takes the deliciousness to another level. Peanut butter and jelly isn’t a classic over here but I’ll make it one for those around me – with these bars. Family-approved, colleague-approved and, well, unsurprisingly approved by my stomach, too. PB & J, you’re here to stay.
The cranberries might not be a typical PB & J add-in but they really add a little something-something to the soft & salty peanut butter-y base and amazingly rich and creamy fudge topping. Feel free to use dried cherries in their place for a more authentic taste but I’ll say you’re missing out. A little ;).
No-bake Cranberry Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Blondies
100 g soft dates
130 g roasted + salted peanuts
1/4 cup [30 g] of dried cranberries
100 g dark chocolate [70 % cocoa or higher]**
1/2 cup of full-fat coconut milk OR full-fat non-dairy creamer [I used soy]
- Place peanuts in a high-speed blender or food processor. Pulse until ground to your preference – either finely ground and flour-like or with a few more roughly chopped pieces for texture*. Remove from the blender and set aside.
- Process dates until finely chopped/close to paste-like. Remove from food processor.
- Add nut meal back to the food processor, turn it on and slowly add the date mixture bit by bit, processing until a thick dough forms. You might want to stop in between, pushing the dates sticking to the sides of the blender/food processor into the blades and stop in between to prevent overheating.
- Firmly press the nut and date mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan. Press the dried cranberries firmly into the blondie base and put into the fridge to harden [it will be very sticky and soft].
- While the base is chilling in the fridge, prepare your ganache layer. Finely chop the chocolate bar and set aside.
- Bring the coconut milk/non-dairy cream to a boil either on the stove or in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate and (!!!) let sit for three minutes. Do NOT stir before.
- Stir to fully combine all fudge ingredients. Top the chilled base with ganache and refridgerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting into it.
*As the roasted peanuts tend to turn into nut butter faster than other nuts you have to be careful not to overblend.
**use sugar-free or stevia-sweetened for a refined sugar-free version.
Happiness-inducing today: Still getting to enjoy some sunshine after work.