It’s a dessert mash up of the two things most synonymous with the month of October: pumpkin and candy! I’m so happy to introduce you to my healthy homemade Pumpkin Snickers! It’s a healthier spin on the popular candy bar (a favorite trick or treat bounty) but with a delicious pumpkiny twist. These homemade candy bars are ones you can feel good about eating especially if you are (for whatever dietary reason) feeling like you can’t join the Halloween candy-filled festivities!
These healthy-ish Pumpkin Snickers are vegan, no-bake, and made with no refined sugars, flours, or oils. And they are paleo-friendly meaning they contain no gluten, grain, or dairy! These candy bars have a thick nougat-like base layer made with almond flour and pumpkin puree, then topped with a chewy coconut-milk-based-caramel layer spiked with pumpkin pie spice and filled with crunchy cashews. (But feel free to use any nut you like instead!) And, of course, coated in a thick layer of dark chocolate. The recipe is super easy to make and the resulting pumpkin flavored candy bar is one you will soon not forget and ensure you won’t be missing those basic candy bars floating around the neighborhood.
This recipe can be made in two ways, one with a candy mold, and one with a loaf pan. After making these candy bars both ways, I have a slight preference for the candy mold. It is a bit easier when it comes to the chocolate coating. There is a bit less wasted melted chocolate and a bit less of a mess made. That being said, the loaf pan may take a bit longer to allow the entire center to firm, but it requires a bit less hands on time. To make these Pumpkin Snickers we create the base nougat by simply mixing the ingredients together in a bowl! Then we make the pumpkin spice caramel on the stove which requires no candy thermometer! The caramel is made by cooking coconut cream, coconut sugar, and coconut oil over a medium flame. Once it’s caramelized and thickened, we cut the heat and mix in cashew butter (or other nut/seed butter of choice) and stir in some chopped cashews (or other nut you prefer). The caramel is placed on top of the nougat and placed in the freezer to firm up. Once it’s firm we coat with melted chocolate, then just a few minutes back in the fridge or freezer to let the chocolate set and THAT’S IT! Basically just three easy steps. And although these candy bars are nothing but basic, the ingredients are. These are made with a total of just 12 real, simple ingredients! No preservatives, no food coloring, just real food to make one real good candy.
Almond Flour – The base of the nougat is made with almond flour to give it that soft and chewy texture. My go-to is always Bob’s Red Mill superfine almond flour. Check Thrive Market for the best pricing.
Pumpkin Puree – To give these candy bars a real pumpkin flavor, I add pumpkin puree to the nougat base. This is the perfect way to use up that small leftover pumpkin you have lingering in your fridge from the more aggressively pumpkin treats (like this Marbled Pumpkin Bread, perhaps). Make sure you use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling which has added sweeteners and spices.
Coconut Sugar – Coconut sugar is used in both the nougat layer and the caramel layer to make these refined sugar free. In fact, the cooking of the coconut sugar really gives a wonderful caramel flavor to the middle layer that really makes it taste like a traditional caramel.
Coconut Cream – Coconut cream is the thick white solid layer at the top of the coconut milk can. Try to use as much of this coconut cream as possible for the caramel. That being said, it’s absolutely fine if some of the coconut milk is included. If that is the case, just be sure to cook the caramel for an extra minute or so when making the caramel.
Cashew Butter – The cashew butter is used to thicken the caramelized sugar mixture and create a thick chewy caramel. Feel free to use any nut/seed butter you like! I used cashew butter because it has a more neutral flavor than some other nut butters and really let’s the pumpkin pie spice shine. Try to use a nut/seed butter that has only 1 ingredient and no added sugars or oils.
Chopped Cashews – Traditional Snickers is made with chopped peanuts, but I decided to go with cashews because I almost always have them on hand and honestly, prefer them to peanuts. Feel free to use any nut that suits your fancy for the crunchy element added to the caramel layer.
Dark Chocolate – One of the reasons I love this recipe more than the original store bought candy is because it’s covered in a thick layer of dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. I use Enjoy Life’s semi-sweet chunks, which are made with cane sugar, because they are allergy-friendly and reasonably priced. Use your favorite coconut sugar sweetened chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar to keep these strictly paleo and refined sugar free.
How Are These Made, you ask?
Okay, I’ve given you a brief run-down of how these are made. But since there are two ways to make these, let’s take a little bit of a closer look at each option before you head off to the pantry to collect the ingredients. There are two vessel options for making these and depending on which one you choose, the steps will be slightly different. I have created two different recipe options below so you can easily follow the steps for either option you choose. Don’t let the seemingly long recipe dissuade you from making these! I give lots of tips to ensure your candy-making success! It’s really only a few steps.
Candy Mold Option: I’m giving this option first because after making them both ways I prefer this one a bit more. It’s a little easier and slightly less messy. I purchased this candy mold from Amazon (specifically for this recipe but will definitely be breaking it out often) and found it be super easy to use and clean! Here is a break down of the steps:
- Melt the chocolate and coat the walls and edges of the bar wells.
- Make the nougat and fill each form halfway with nougat.
- Make the caramel and top the nougat with caramel.
- Close the bar with the upper layer of chocolate.
- Let set and pop those candy bars out when you’re ready to enjoy!
Loaf Pan Option: Try to find a loaf pan with the straightest edges possible to create an even bar look, but any will do, and line with parchment paper. Then the steps are as follows.
- Make the nougat and press into the pan.
- Make the caramel and spread over nougat.
- Let everything firm in freezer (ideally 2 hrs, minimum 30 minutes).
- Cut filling layer into bars.
- Melt chocolate and coat the bars.
- Let set in freezer and that’s is, candy ready for your enjoyment.
Either way you make these, you are sure to end up with one very delicious treat without any of those sneaky food tricks! It’s basically the best of October desserts in one delicious bar.
paleo friendly (gluten/grain/dairy free), refined sugar free, vegan
RECIPE FOR CANDY MOLD
RECIPE FOR CANDY MOLD
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