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8 ingredient salted caramel dark chocolate pecan bars! Vegan, gluten free, paleo, refined sugar free, and sugar free/keto friendly. These salted caramel dark chocolate pecan bars are one of my favorite Thanksgiving desserts. They’re so rich and fudgy and really just the perfect combination of sweet and salty. I prefer to bake my bars, but you can choose not to bake these bars if you prefer (see recipe notes below for the no-bake option). If you’re a fan of caramel, chocolate, and pecan, these bars are a must make!
How can I make these pecan bars sugar free and keto friendly?
I used coconut sugar in the shortbread crust and caramel filling, but it can be substituted with monk fruit if you want to keep the recipe sugar free and keto. You will also want to use a sugar free dark chocolate for the chocolate topping or make your own using unsweetened chocolate and a sweetener of choice (see notes below for how to do that).
What ingredients will I need to make these pecan bars?
You’ll need just 8 ingredients to make these tarts (well, 9 if you include water!). Here’s what you will need:
- almond flour
- coconut sugar
- sea salt
- coconut oil
- cashew butter
- pure vanilla extract
- dark chocolate
I’m allergic to coconut, what else can I use?
If you’re allergic to coconut, you can substitute the coconut oil with vegan or grass fed butter.
What if I don’t have cashew butter?
If you don’t have cashew butter on hand, that’s totally fine. You can substitute the cashew butter for any other nut butter (though I personally recommend cashew butter in this recipe).
How do I make my own chocolate topping?
If you want to make your own chocolate topping instead of using melted dark chocolate for the topping, simply follow these instructions: add 4oz unsweetened chocolate and 1 TBS coconut oil to a small saucepan and heat it over low heat until the chocolate is completely melted, stirring frequently. You can also heat the mixture in the microwave if preferred. If you melt the chocolate in the microwave, make sure to stop and stir it every minute so that it doesn’t burn. Once the chocolate is melted with the coconut oil, stir in 1/4 cup + 2 TBS maple syrup, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp salt. If you want to keep the chocolate topping sugar free, use a sugar free maple syrup.
Do I have to bake these bars?
These bars can be enjoyed baked or unbaked. The recipe below is for the baked version, but if you prefer not to bake these bars or don’t have an oven on hand, you don’t need to bake them. To make the unbaked version, freeze the crust before adding the caramel to it, then freeze the crust and caramel layer before adding the melted chocolate, then freeze the bars after adding the melted chocolate! Store the bars in the fridge or freezer.
For the Crust
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 2 TBS water
- 3 TBS coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the Caramel Pecan Filling
- 1/2 cup cashew butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
For the Dark Chocolate Topping
- 8oz dark chocolate
- 1 TBS coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 350° and line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper.
- While the oven preheats, mix together your crust ingredients in a large bowl until a smooth mixture forms.
- Place the crust in the lined baking dish and use a separate piece of parchment paper to press it down and spread it out evenly across the bottom of the pan. Make sure it covers the bottom of the pan completely.
- Next, prepare the salted caramel pecan filling: add the cashew butter, coconut sugar, pure vanilla extract, water, and salt to a small saucepan and heat it over low heat until the mixture begins to bubble, whisking frequently. Once the mixture beings to bubble, remove it from the heat and let it cool. You can also heat the mixture in the microwave if preferred. Whisk well before heating and heat until it begins to bubble. Once slightly cooled, stir the pecans into the caramel.
- Pour the caramel over the prepared crust and evenly spread it over the crust.
- Bake the bars for 20 minutes in the oven, until the caramel begins to set.
- Once baked, let the bars cool on the stovetop.
- While the bars cool, prepare the chocolate topping: add the dark chocolate and coconut oil to a small saucepan and heat it over low heat until the chocolate is completely melted, stirring frequently. You can also heat the mixture in the microwave if preferred. If you melt the chocolate in the microwave, make sure to stop and stir it every minute so that it doesn't burn. If you are making your own chocolate sauce with unsweetened chocolate, prepare that now.
- Once melted, allow the chocolate to cool for several minutes before pouring it over the caramel pecan layer. Smooth it out with a butter knife or spatula.
- Once the chocolate layer is finished, place the bars in the refrigerator to chill for several hours, or until the chocolate layer is hardened.
- Once chilled remove the bars from the fridge and slice into 16 squares. Serve immediately or store in the fridge until serving.
Store bars in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.