Peanut Butter Caramel Shortbread Bars (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


I am going to shake things up a little today. I am going to start with the results of this recipe first, and not keep you in suspense. The tagline of this blog is “Adventures in cooking, baking and eating the results”, and I think you know that I try to be pretty honest about those results. I am willing to admit when a recipe just doesn’t live up to my expectations, and I will even fess up to outright failures (hello, Peppermint Meringues!). So I know you will believe me when I say that these bars were nothing short of heavenly. I really mean that. I actually told husband that they just might be the best thing I’ve managed to make low carb and gluten free, and that’s saying a lot. And I am so eager to share them with you that I couldn’t work it into my usual format. These are scream-it-from-the-rooftops good.

The timeliness of this recipe couldn’t be better either. Apparently, November is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month. I have to admit, I am usually a little dismissive of these food holidays and celebrations. I mean really, who is declaring all of these things and does it really make any difference? And they all come too fast and furious for me to keep track of, quite honestly. But peanut butter is a whole other matter entirely. It’s much too important a substance in my life for me to be dismissive of a celebration in its name. I am just thankful that it’s a month-long celebration and that I managed to see a few references to it in time to join in the festivities. Peanut butter deserves its own month. Heck, in my books it deserves its own century. I declare the 2000’s the Century of Peanut Butter. Who’s with me?

The idea of adding some peanut butter to my low carb caramel sauce has been in my head for a while now. At first, I conceived of it as something to drizzle over ice cream, and you could certainly do so. It would be a fantastic addition to a low carb sundae. But I didn’t take any action on it at the time, and so the idea continue to grow and evolve in my head. These things always do. My brain finally seemed to settle on sandwiching the peanut butter caramel between layers of shortbread and chocolate, and from that point it didn’t budge. I had a long list of other things I was planning to make, but this one kept buzzing around my brain and whispering itself in my ear. Make me, make me! And this past weekend, I did. The only question is, why the heck did I wait so long???

And now, if my evil plan works, you will all have these bars buzzing around your brain and whispering in your ear. Make me. MAKE ME! And you won’t regret it. Your only problem will be resisting taking a bar every time you pass the pan. That’s been my issue, and let’s face it. Low carb is no longer low carb when you eat the whole pan. Whoops.

Peanut Butter Caramel Shortbread Bars

1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup butter, chilled
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
15 drops stevia extract

Peanut Butter Caramel Filling:
1/2 cup granulated erythritol
1 tsp water
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping:
6 tbsp butter
2 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp powdered erythritol
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
15 drops stevia extract

For the crust, preheat the oven to 350F. Combine almond flour, butter, erythritol, xanthan gum and stevia in a food processer. Pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of an 8-inch square pan and bake 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Set aside and let cool.

For the caramel sauce, combine erythritol and water together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until erythritol has dissolved and mixture bubbles, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cream. Mixture will bubble vigorously. Return to heat and boil one minute, then stir in peanut butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour over cooled crust and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Let cool completely.

For the chocolate topping, melt butter together with chopped chocolate and powdered erythritol in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously until smooth. Add cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla and stevia extract. Pour chocolate over cooled peanut butter filling and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Let set at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Serves 16. Each bar has 6 g of carbs and 2.3 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 3.7 g.

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  1. says

    No wonder you couldn't wait to share the recipe with us. I'm pretty sure that's what they serve in Peanut Butter heaven. Wonder where can I get my ticket from…
    Happy Thanksgiving Carolyn! Enjoy you coffee maker!

  2. says

    Oooohhhh these do look heavenly!!!! Yum-O:-) I just bought more almond flour too, bonus! I honestly couldn't think of a kitchen appliance, we have so many, BUT I know I would love all the fun attachments that go with my mixer. I would especially love the pasta maker attachment:-) Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Sending hugs, Terra

  3. says

    My mom was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago so I'm going to be visiting here a bunch between now and Christmas when we head up to visit. It falls upon me to bring all the sweet stuff and now that she can't eat the normal goodies (but loves them), I need to find alternatives. This one is perfect.

    She's also a chocolate hound so lil ole chocolate hating me will be making chocolate goodies. I just need to do my best to keep the rest of the family away!

    I'm so glad that the Fairy Hobmother visited you. It couldn't happen to a more gracious, kind and wonderful person! Since her cousin, the Tooth Fairy, will be visiting us any time now she'll probably hear about how badly I've wanted a KitchenAid stand mixer for a number of years. :)

  4. RavieNomNoms says

    This looks amazing!!! I am so impressed with these. I have been seeing so many peanut butter things. My peanut butter love is just growing and growing this week!

  5. Giuliana says

    Oh these look divine! I love love love peanut butter, and shortbread is always perfect for the holidays. This is the first Christmas since I started "low-carb" baking, so I am anxious to try these!

    If I could have any small kitchen appliance…. hmm… would have to say an immersion blender! Ours broke over the summer and between graduation, 2 new jobs, school, my husband's graduation, gifts, birthdays, etc, I just haven't had the ability to get a new one!

    Thank you, Carolyn, for another wonderful recipe!

  6. says

    Ohh, those look fantastic! Can't wait to try them!
    And for a small appliance, I would have to go with a gelato maker. You know, the kind that doesn't need any bowls pre-freezing or ice cubes and salt and makes that heavenly consistency only gelato can have.

  7. says

    These look totally yummy! I will have to make them now. As far as an appliance, I would love to have a Ninja blender system. They just look so cool on the infomercial and would make my life cooking and baking in the kitchen so much easier!

  8. Laurie says

    I love to read your blog and drool over your yummy recipes. Thanks so much for working so hard for the benefit of us all. When I saw the Peanut Butter Caramel, I knew this is the next recipe I have to try.

    That's so cool about the Fairy Hobmother. I'm glad you got your coffee maker. I could sure use a new food processor. The blade on mine broke awhile back and I've just had to do without it.

  9. AnneW says

    These bars look wonderful. They will be made. Congrats on your new coffee maker. My desire would be for a KitchenAid stand mixer-I've wanted one for years and years..

  10. lizzydo says

    Congrats on your visit from the Fairy Hobmother!!! And thank you for sharing this fabulous bar! It looks amazing with 3 different delicious layers…mmmmmm….I know I couldn't leave these alone :) Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  11. says

    I should have asked for a new blender last week…would've saved myself some cash! Congratulations on your new coffee maker, and, of course, these heavenly bars — that IS saying a lot that you think they're the best low-carb thing you've ever made. Everything you make looks insane (including the failed meringues!)

  12. says

    Peanut butter, caramel and chocolate? I call that heaven! These look so good!!! I have wanted to make something similar for so long and looking at yours and knowing they have that added bonus of peanut butter just makes me swoon! Bookmarked!

  13. food_dreamer says

    Honestly, if your mom likes peanut butter and chocolate, she will love these! My husband said they tasted exactly like Tagalong cookies.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. food_dreamer says

    These would be perfect for Christmas. Well, I think so but that's because I think pb and chocolate (and caramel!) is perfect any time of the year. Good luck with being low carb for the holidays. It isn't easy, but when you have some treats of your own pre-made, it's way easier.

  15. says

    I am going to have to try these. And in case anyone is listening, all I want for my new kitchen is that little waffle stick maker appliance. I think it would make great low carb breads with some crunch factor!

  16. says

    These look amazing Carolyn! Glad you learned about peanut butter month in time! I only learned from other blogs as well – I can never keep up! Love caramel and pb together – as a dipper for apple slices..yummy!
    Kitchen Appliance – I would love a blender. Mine broke forever ago, and I have not replaced it!

  17. See Nikki Cook says

    Those bars are on the list for first thing friday morning…need all that protein after black Friday shopping!
    appliance–crock pot–mine recently died– that was a sad day in my house!

  18. Tierney says

    I would love a simple electric (hand) mixer–I live in a tiny apartment and don't have many cooking implements There are so many recipes I can't make because I don't have one of these, and I certainly don't have the arm muscles needed to cream butter and sugar for cakes and cookies.

  19. says

    Saw these dreams on Foodgawker, the picture jumped off the page… best one there! Don't you just love it when things live up like that? I had to laugh at your Peppermint Meringue failure… I had the same one.
    Nicely done on these guys!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, hugs from San Diego.

  20. Taryn says

    Oh my word. If I hadn't decided on a pumpkin recipe for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I'd make these! They look so delicious. Funny enough, Walkers shortbread is one of the things I miss the most in my low-carb lifestyle.

    Also, lucky you to get a new coffee maker! I'd love one of those fantastic vitamix blenders, but I'll probably end up getting another magic bullet instead since I don't have $400 to spend on a blender! :)

    Thanks so much for all of the work you do for us!

  21. gerryspeirs says

    Great looking bars Carolyn! and WTH fairy, come on over and you can grant me a wish for a new coffee maker, my French press is about to retire :( and I CANNOT have no form of coffee delivery system in my life…
    Take care

  22. says

    These bars look just delightful – heavenly indeed!! I must make them soon. Congrats on the coffee maker! I'd love a large (like 6-quart?) slow cooker this time of year. Happy Thanksgiving!

  23. Johannafaye Gannon says

    When I baked my two Pumpkin Pies yesterday I forgot to put the sugar in them. I remembered as I was taking them out of the oven! I ended up putting sugar on top and then under the broiler. I sure could have used a kitchen torch! Then the crust would not have been almost black. Otherwise they don't look bad; hope they taste good.

  24. says

    These look amazing… mmmm…. as for a small appliance? I would love a food processor. I had one a very long time ago and remember that it was easier to grate cheese and carrots…and blend pastry… ya – one of those would be cool.

  25. dee johnson says

    These look and sound yummy! I wish for a new kitchen stand mixer, before my ancient one (that used to be my mothers) dies and I can't make all of my wonderful gluten free goodies! 😉

  26. says

    I'm not a peanut butter lover, but I live with one who also happens to be a shortbread kind of guy. I think he'd drool at the thought of this recipe!

  27. Sherry says

    I can't wait to try your Peanut Butter Caramel Short Bread bars. I am sure they are wonderful as is everything you create. I made your Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Icing for Thanksgiving. It was absolutely wonderful and was the hit of the desert table!! I have been longing for a Kitchen Aide mixer for quite some time. If the Fairy Hobmother doesn't visit, maybe Santa will come through.

  28. says

    Those bars DO look heavenly! And I don't even like peanut butter and chocolate together. BTW, I still think your pepperment merengues (sp?) were beautiful!

  29. says

    I would love a new electric frying pan. I'd be able to take it camping and cook outside. I could make my gluten free fried chicken in it. So many possibilities.

  30. says

    I am in for the millenium of peanut butter. I once at a whole jar in one sitting. I'm also a shortbread fiend, so I can't wait to try these. As for the Fairy Hobmother, I would dearly love a smallish crock pot. I'm from a warm place but I'm a student in a cold place, so chili and soup and pot roast would help me survive the winter.

  31. Stephany says

    I would be up for granting pb a full century to devote to it. Yummy, these look delish and my dh LOVES shortbread. Didn't know there was a low carb version. Will have to try these soon. As for the kitchen appliance i would love should the fairy hobmother grant my wish would be a 10 or 12-cup food processor. What a neat gift. Thanks again for the recipe.

  32. Paloma says

    I just wanted to say that these are wonderful! I did substitute the erythitrol with xylitol and used sugar free vanilla flavored torani syrup instead of agave….that's what I had on hand. The family loved it. They are rich so one is perfect. Thank you so much for this, definitely on my keeper list.

  33. says

    Dear Fairy Hobmother: I need a new food processor! Mine is declining with age.

    These look most heavenly. I rely on you to make low-carb things that look like carb heaven, and this certainly looks like a winner.

  34. jflower36 says

    Thanks Carolyn! I'll try it again with one of the brands you recommend. How brown should the melted erythritol be before I add the cream? I stopped cooking the erythritol when it had barely started to turn a very light tan color. It was smoking. Maybe I had the burner too high? Your recipes look sooooo good! I just bought some dates to make your sticky toffee pudding.

  35. Giuliana says

    I've just made these, and you are not kidding when you say the urge is irresistible to eat these out of the pan.

  36. Giuliana says

    Oh, definitely! I just went out shopping… and I came back to find my fiance had devoured THREE pieces while I was out!

  37. Catherine H. says

    These are as fabulous as they look. The peanut butter-caramel I could I eat right out of the pan. The shortbread is not as crumbly and "shorty" as that name suggests, but more soft, almost cakey–and still definitely delicious.

  38. Jmb says

    I made these today and they are incredible! They taste light a much higher carb dessert. My only problem is not eating the whole pan. Do you think they could be frozen?

  39. says

    These look fantastic Carolyn. Thank you – I am always looking for healthy but delicious recipes. Will delve further into your blog.

  40. Kemi says

    I cannot use agave nectar. Is there something else I can substitute for it or not use it at all? I do have Nature’s Hollow substitute honey, would that be an option?

    • Carolyn says

      I am sure that would work perfectly. Really, you need something a little liquidy to help the erythritol begin to melt.

      • DIANE says

        This recipe looks delicious! Would honey or maple syrup work in this recipe in place of agave nectar? My nutritionist has told me agave is about as bad as high-fructose corn syrup. And will regular sugar or brown sugar work in this recipe in place of the erythritol?

  41. says

    These look amazing . Can’t believe you found a way to make them low carb!!!! Problem is I wouldn’t be able to eat the appropriate serving…lol.
    Lucky you for the visit…you deserve it with all your wonderful recipes. As for me I need a whole new kitchen… Not just appliances!! Lol

  42. JJ says

    I’ve been dying for a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for years! Just can’t seem to bring myself to spend the money. Oh, and those look delicious! And not too difficult to make either.

  43. Soul Sister says

    I was never into baking until I discovered you and low carb baking! Now I’m dying to get a real stand mixer instead of my tiny hand held!

    • Carolyn says

      Honestly, it would be worth it. I’ve had my KitchenAid mixer for 11 years and it still works perfectly. I adore it. And whipping cream and egg whites is so fast.

  44. Elaine says

    I am impressed with this recipe…low carb things are just so difficult to make “wonderful” like regular things. I can just envision that these will be different…hope, hope…because it has ALL my favs…PB, chocolate, shortbread!!! I would just love to have one of those grill combo things that has all the different plates for waffles, donuts, omelettes, etc…but econonmy and finances just wont allow it.

  45. Amanda says

    These look just like the chocolate caramel bars we used to make! I miss them so much since needing to eat Gluten Free, imagine my excitement when I found your recipe! I can’t wait to try these out later!

  46. Katharine says

    Just made my fourth batch. In a month. I love grabbing one out of the fridge when I hit an afternoon slump. Oh, and after dinner when I need a sweet nibble. Oh, and mid-morning when I need something quick to keep me energized until lunch…I need an intervention!!

  47. Sarah says

    I just made these for the second time today. They are soooo good! The only change I made this time was to add about 1/4 tsp salt to the crust and a few sprinkles to the caramel. I think the salt really helped enhance all the flavors a bit. These are a definite new favorite. I was already melting the erythritol for the caramel when I realized I was out of heavy cream. Luckily I had 1/2 & 1/2, so I did that plus a couple tblsp butter. It actually turned out great! Phew!

  48. Juanita says

    I’m a recently diagnosed diabetic who is eating low carb-high fat, and I cannot WAIT to try these! I’m just waiting for my Swerve to get here!

    Also? If this small-appliance Fairy Hobmother thing is still on, I do need a food-processor. We are prepping all our food from scratch at this point; I can’t afford processed foods in my diet anymore. So it would be a real life-saver for me. Thanks for considering it! And if not, that’s ok, too. I came late to the party….. 😉

  49. Deborah says

    Carolyn, could you tell me what brand stevia extract you use, so I can order it? I’m used to using the nunaturals stevia powder, but since your recipes seem to use liquid stevia extract a lot, and i am beginning to use your recipes a lot, i figured it would be easier to order the liquid extract rather than try and work out how much powder i should use each time. thanks!

    I haven’t yet made these, but i did make just the base last week, and spread your lemon curd over it. divine.

  50. Hope says

    We’re having a little food-fest this Labour Day weekend, before school starts next week and we get really serious about our diet again. So, I made these today and all I have to say is, YUMMO!!!

  51. Mariah says

    That looks really good!! Would stevia work instead of the erythritol? One of these days I need to get a stand mixer. I would be SO much more interested in baking! Hand mixers just take too much time.

    • Carolyn says

      I don’t know if stevia would work that well in the filling. I suspect the consistency would change a great deal.

  52. sandi dubble says

    Hello Fairy Hobmother…I’d like a once cup coffee maker…like a Krups..but odesnt have to be a Krups. I’d settle for something cheaper. :)

  53. says

    Going to see if I can adapt this to “dairy free”. Wheat – dairy allergy here..and avocado just to make Keto fun and interesting.

    I can get lactose free whipping cream now, so this should be possible

    A stand mixer would be cool…food allergies mean cooking from scratch and when friends and family are around I need to do the cooking.

    My mom has an amazing stand mixer she brought from England when we emigrated in 1974. They had the electrical redone on it so it would work in Canada. It’s still going.!

    I can borrow it, but she lives 90 minutes away, and it just doesn’t work for us to be driving it back and forth.

  54. Teresa Bey says

    Can’t wait to try these. YUM!
    I’d love to have a food processor to make all these wonderful recipes. :)

  55. Christy says

    These look soooo yummy!! my wish would be for a Vitamix…I have been trying to reverse some major health issues & there are so many healthy recipes I could use the Vitamix for…I’ve been learning over the past year or so that putting healthy things in my body makes a HUGE difference on how I feel & how much pain I have!!

  56. Sharon Looper says

    I would love a visit from the Fairy Hobmother. I could really use a new single burner cast iron stove. Mine is about to go out. I do all of my cooking on a single burner or in my toaster oven. It’s all the room we have because we have to travel so much with my husband’s job.

  57. Christina says

    Omg – these look so good. I would have to stumble upon this recipe while in out of town for work, and can’t bake anything. The suspense is killing me! Lol I think I will make these and top the with a little bit of coconut. Sounds divine!! If the fairy hobmother visits me, I would like a vitamix! Life would be so much easier with a vitamix.

    Thanks for the great recipe(s)! Can’t wait to try this one!

  58. carole says

    Hi there.I want to make these but doubt that I can buy agave nectar.I live in new Zealand and doubt that we have this here….unless I can buy it online.what else could I use?

  59. Michelle says

    These are amazing!! I made them this afternoon and couldn’t wait to try them!! I cut into them after about 50 minutes…just couldn’t take the suspense any longer! The chocolate was set, but still soft. They will be even more amazing when the chocolate layer is completely set! I will be making these again (assuming I can behave myself and not eat too many servings) and next time might add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp almond extract to the shortbread layer. I love almond extract in shortbread and think it would add a great flavor to this dessert! A little goes a long way though, so I will be careful not to over power the other amazing flavors! Thanks for posting this recipe!


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