Homemade Snickers Bites – Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar Free

Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free

I don’t know about you, but it’s around this time of year that I start to panic. That sudden realization that the holidays are just around the corner, coupled with feelings of “where did the rest of the year go?” and “what am I doing with my life?” always seem to strike around the end of October. As a result, I tend to become all bah-humbuggy about Halloween (how dare October 31st come so quickly!), and vow to shut off all the lights and hide when the trick-or-treaters come.

Of course, I don’t hide. I always manage to pull myself together just in time to hand out goodies to all the little ghosts and ghouls, who bring back my own fond memories of going door-to-door asking strangers for candy.

As a kid, the first thing my brother and I would do after trick-or-treating was dump all our swag onto the living room floor, and sort it into piles. There was the reject pile, filled with the lesser quality candies. The good stuff pile, made up of everything not bad, but not great. And at the top, our pile of favorites, containing the best of the best candies, which would be carefully guarded, and either saved for last, or eaten before all the rest, depending on how much restraint we had. Once everything was sorted, we would then begin the diplomatic ritual of trading our goods, swapping the things we deemed to be less desirable for something better (if we could get it).

I am lucky to say, I have a very generous brother. Without a doubt, snickers were my favorite of the candy bars, and he was always kind enough to share a few of his with me. At the time, I liked to think it was my incredible powers of persuasion that got him to give up some of his best loot in exchange for something as meager as a box of milk duds, but looking back now, I know that wasn’t the case.

Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free

Now that I’m a health-conscious adult, candy bars rarely make it into my diet. I find them harder to enjoy, knowing how processed they are, how waxy their chocolate, how corn-syrup laden their caramel… I’ve been spoiled, in my old age, by higher quality desserts. And yet, it’s hard to shake the nostalgia of those classic bars…

Now, just as a disclaimer, these little bites don’t taste exactly like snickers. In fact, they are pretty far removed from your standard candy bar, so if you’re looking for a “copycat” recipe, you’ve come to the wrong place. They do share some of the same sweet and salty qualities, though, and when I find myself craving the real thing, these usually do the trick without throwing me off my diet, or into a sugar-frenzy.

These little bites also happen to be raw, vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar free. And, because they’re made in your own kitchen, you get to know exactly what goes into them (allergic to peanuts? Swap them for almonds!) Like most raw desserts, these bites are high in protein, healthy fats, and nutrients — each one packs a big hit of energy, which makes them great for fueling up in the mornings, or just before a workout. Unfortunately, that also means they aren’t particularly low calorie (my rough calculations estimate each bite to be about 100 calories). You can rest assured knowing that those calories are coming from good-for-you stuff, but they are pretty addictive, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free

Homemade “Snickers” Bites
(Raw, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free) – makes about 50 one-inch bites
Inspired by this recipe by my friend Cara, at Fork and Beans

For the nougat layer:
1 cup almond flour, hazelnut flour, coconut flour, or gluten-free oat flour (or a mix)
1 cup raw cashews, soaked
1/4 cup unflavored (or vanilla) protein powder (such as this one) - optional
4 dates, pitted
1/2 cup + 2 TBSP maple syrup (or raw honey, if your diet allows)
1 TBSP coconut oil, melted

For the caramel:
1 cup (20-22) dates, pitted, plus enough water to cover them
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (or the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean)
big pinch of salt
1 TBSP coconut oil, melted

3/4 – 1 cup raw peanuts, or other nuts*

For the chocolate topping:
3 TBSP raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder)
3 TBSP coconut oil, melted
2-3 TBSP maple syrup, to taste
small pinch of salt

*if your diet allows the nuts to be roasted, you can use roasted/salted in place of the raw. Just omit the pinch of salt in the caramel sauce if you do!

Method
Before you make your bites, get the cashews and dates soaking. In one bowl, place the cashews and cover with cool tap water. In a separate bowl, place the dates for the caramel sauce and add just enough water to cover them. Let sit for a couple of hours, or overnight.

When you’re ready to make your bites, line an 8x8inch baking dish with parchment paper, so that the parchment overhangs the sides. This will make for easy removal later.

For the nougat layer:
1.   In the bowl of your food processor, combine the raw flour, cashews (soaked, and thoroughly drained), and protein powder, if using. Add the dates, maple syrup, and coconut oil, and blend thoroughly until the mixture starts to clump together and form a ball.
2.   Scrape the nougat mixture into the bottom of your prepared baking dish, and press into an even layer. I found wetting my fingers slightly helped keep the nougat from sticking to them, or you could use a lightly dampened spatula.
3.   Set pan in the freezer and let chill for 5-10 minutes, while you prepare the caramel.

For the caramel:
1.   Give your food processor a quick rinse, then add the dates (scoop them out of the water they are soaking in, but don’t discard the water), vanilla, and melted coconut oil. Add about 1/2 cup of the date-soaking liquid, and pulse to combine. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add more water as needed until it moves smoothly. Add a pinch of salt (be generous if your peanuts are unsalted), and pulse to combine.
2.   Stir in the peanuts, then spread evenly over the chilled nougat layer. Return the pan to the freezer while you make the chocolate topping.

For the chocolate topping:
1.   In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt. Stir or whisk until completely smooth, then give it a taste and adjust the sweetness as needed.
2.   Pour over the top of your nougat and caramel, and spread evenly with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Return the pan to the freezer and let chill for a minimum of several hours, or overnight.
3.   Once fully set, remove from the freezer. Use the flaps of parchment overhanging the pan to help lift the block of snickers out and onto a cutting board. Cut the block into equal portions (I cut mine into 1 inch bites, but you can make yours as big or little as you like).
4.   Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to several months. (These bites get pretty messy at room temperature, but are the perfect consistency straight from the freezer.) Enjoy!

16 thoughts on “Homemade Snickers Bites – Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar Free

  1. Erin | The Law Students Wife

    Willow, your writing and photography totally blow me away! (Also, I just wrote a post describing a similar halloween candy swap scene. Sounds like it’s a family tradition :-). So happy to have met you and found your wonderful blog!

    Reply
    1. Willow Arlen

      Thanks, Erin! That’s so funny, because I just read about someone else having the same tradition. And ditto, it was great meeting you. Looking forward to keeping in touch! :)

      Reply
  2. Jennie Phaneuf

    Smarties, Mary Jane’s, and raisins would always make it to the reject pile. This gal loves chocolate. If you hand these bars out, you would be the favorite house in the neighborhood. Hmm, where do you live? I may need to stop by ;) Pinning this for sure.

    Reply
  3. Amy @ Elephant Eats

    My mom used to make us dump out all our candy when we got home. We could eat several pieces straight away then pick 5 pieces for our candy cupboard, and the rest went to my dad to bring into his office. It was a bummer to collect it all and give it away but it was probably a good rule :) Love this idea of a healthified snickers. I can’t wait to give it a try!!

    Reply
  4. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes

    Can we be best friends? I LOVED snickers growing up :) My Sister and I would do the same except we would sort our piles by type – pile of snikers, pile of peanut butter cups. My least favorite was good and plenty – no good, give me the snickers, butterfingers and peanut butter cups any time, but leave out the good and plenty or mike and ikes!

    Reply
  5. shannon weber

    sometimes, Willow, we are the same person: i too do the hokey-pokey of “where has the time gone? where are my goals?!?” this time of year. ALWAYS fun. :)
    i’m so happy you said that about store-bought candy bars! although i occasionally get the pull towards a snickers or baby ruth (both my favorites from childhood) or peanut m&m’s (NEVER safe in my house), i get them home, and inevitably my expectations end up being too high. They’re not the dreamy things i remember from years ago: it really must be that our palates change and we know what good chocolate actually tastes like, but it does sort of ruin it.
    i love this version: i like that it’s gluten free, and i especially love that it’s refined-sugar free. Treats are wonderful, and i’m not opposed to sugar in moderation, but i love recipes that get their sweetness from a more natural source. Call me old, but it makes me feel better. :)

    Reply
    1. Willow Arlen

      Thanks, Shannon! I feel the same way. I’ve been spoiled by high-quality desserts (and real, dark chocolate), which makes most candies/candy bars taste like almost pure sugar to me now. Even as a kid, I think that’s why I liked snickers — at least they have a little substance to them, with the peanuts and all. :P

      Reply
    1. Willow Arlen

      Thanks, Christina! I had been thinking the same thing — must make a date caramel sauce! – and decided to try it out here. I liked it, though it is definitely more date-y than caramel-y (which is kind of to be expected). Still tasty, though!

      Reply

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