These chocolate chip cookie dough bars are slathered with a thick layer of healthier homemade caramel, chocolate, and a good sprinkle of flaky salt.
📖 Recipe Overview
- Easy To Make - These cookie dough caramel bars don't require any baking, so no need to preheat the oven! The recipe comes together in a few simple steps with about 20 minutes of prep time and is suitable for novice bakers to seasoned chefs.
- Minimal Ingredients - Made with simple plantbased ingredients that are generally pretty wholesome too. A lot of them are pantry staples that you may already have to hand.
- Vegan - As well as being naturally eggless and dairy-free, they can be made gluten-free with GF oats. They're also made without butter and refined sugar like most cookie dough recipes.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
You only need 8 simple ingredients to make easy cookie dough bars. Here's what to grab:
Here are a few things to bear in mind when selecting your ingredients to make these vegan cookie dough bars:
- Cashew Butter - If you want to keep these caramel slices cashew-free, you can swap this out for peanut butter, almond butter, or tahini. Make sure you choose a spread without added oil.
- Rolled Oats- Also sold as “old-fashioned oats,” these have the best, chewiest consistency. You can swap in instant oats which also work perfectly. You can also use ground almonds or almond flour, but I would just use half the nut butter in this case as it won't be as thirsty as the oats!
- Vanilla Bean Paste - Vanilla extract will also do, just make sure you opt for a brand that is vegan-friendly such as Neilsen Massey pure vanilla extract and Taylor and Colledge vanilla bean extract.
- Pure Maple Syrup: This adds sweetness, and flavor, and helps bind the cookie dough ingredients. You can use brown rice syrup or agave syrup if preferred.
- Coconut Oil: This is what sets the cashew caramel layer as coconut oil solidifies at around 74°F (23°C).
- Vegan Chocolate Chips - If you can’t find vegan chocolate chips, finely chopped vegan milk chocolate or dark chocolate will also work.
- Sea Salt - Cookie dough just would not be the same without that salty edge. The salt enhances and balances the flavors and sweetness of the dough, so I don't recommend skipping it.
🥣 How To Make Cookie Dough Bars
This easy no-bake dessert comes together in just a few simple steps. The hardest part is waiting for the caramel to set! Here's how it's done:
Step 1: Blend. Blitz the oats in your food processor until finely ground. Then add in cashew butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and blend again until combined.
Step 2: Add chocolate chips. Transfer the cookie dough to a bowl and mix in vegan chocolate chips with your hands or using a spatula.
Step 3: Press the cookie dough into a pan. Press the cookie dough into the base of a pan lined with parchment paper. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to smooth it out in an even layer.
Step 4: Make the caramel. This easy caramel is made in one simple step, literally. Just add the maple syrup, cashew butter, coconut oil, and salt to a bowl and melt over a double boiler (bain marie) and stir until smooth.
Step 5: Add caramel layer. Spread the caramel on top of the cookie dough base, using a spatula to get an even layer. Place in the fridge for a few hours until the caramel hardens and sets.
Step 6: Top with chocolate and set. Melt the vegan chocolate and pour it on top of the set caramel. Allow it to firm up in the fridge before slicing and serving.
🍪 Optional Variations
I love this easy cookie dough bar recipe as it's written, but there's plenty of room to add your own spin:
- Make It Nut-Free - If you're sensitive to nuts, swap out the cashew butter for tahini or sunflower seed spread.
- Gluten-Free - If you have a gluten intolerance, go for certified gluten-free oats.
- Add Fruit - Sprinkle freeze-dried raspberries or strawberries on top of the chocolate before it sets for a layer of fruity flavor.
- Switch The Chocolate - Feel free to use dairy-free milk chocolate, white chocolate, or dark chocolate for the topping.
- Add Crunch - Add toasted hazelnuts, flaked almonds, shredded coconut, or some granola on top of the chocolate before it sets.
These easy cookie bars will keep for up to 5 days in a covered container in the fridge.
Absolutely! Store them in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. To serve, simply defrost them in the fridge overnight.
In this case, yes! Because these bars are eggless and made without flour, they are totally safe to eat without baking.
❄️ More No-Bake Recipes
*This recipe was originally published in June 2021. The recipe has since been improved to minimize the ingredients used and simplify the instructions. The original cookie dough recipe can be found in the notes section of the recipe card below.
Oat Cookie Dough - see recipe notes for almond flour version
- 200 g (7 oz) vegan chocolate
- 30 g (2 tbsp) cashew butter, or almond butter
- flaky sea salt, for garnish
- Prepare: Lightly grease the base and sides of a square 8" pan with some oil, then line with parchment paper.
- Blend: Blitz the oats in your food processor until finely ground. Then add in cashew butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and blend again until combined.
- Add chocolate chips: Transfer the cookie dough to a bowl and mix in vegan chocolate chips with your hands or using a spatula.
- Press the cookie dough into a pan: Press the cookie dough into the base of a pan lined with parchment paper. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to smooth it out in an even layer.
- Make the caramel: This easy caramel is made in one simple step, literally. Just add the maple syrup, cashew butter, coconut oil, and salt to a bowl and melt over a double boiler (bain marie) and stir until smooth.
- Assemble and set: Spread the caramel on top of the cookie dough base, using a spatula to get an even layer. Place in the fridge for 3 hours until the caramel hardens and sets.
- Chocolate coating: Melt the vegan chocolate with the cashew butter over a double-boiler and stir until smooth. Pour it on top of the set caramel. Allow it to firm up in the fridge for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Serving: To slice, place a sharp knife in a jug of boiling water to heat it. Wipe the knife dry and gently cut, allowing the heat from the knife to melt through the slices. Garnish with sea salt and serve.
- Storage: Store these slices in an airtight container in the fridge and consume them within 5 days. Alternatively, you can freeze any unused portions and defrost them as nein the fridge overnight as needed.
- For almond flour cookie dough, use these ratios and ingredients instead: 3 cups (335g) ground almonds, ⅓ cup (55g) coconut sugar, 1 tsp salt, ½ cup (128g) cashew butter, 1 tbsp vanilla, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 100g chocolate chips
- Don't skip the nut butter in the chocolate topping. This helps to make the chocolate that little bit more pliable and helps prevent cracking when you slice the bars.
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