Deliciously crispy low carb peanut butter bars with a rich chocolate topping. These healthy scotcheroos are a fun and tasty snack.
Forgive me, people. I am really not normally one for cutesie names for recipes; typically, I stick with descriptive titles that tell you exactly what you’re getting. But sometimes the choice is not mine. Sometimes, I am creating a low carb dessert that is modelled after a recipe that already exists, and I have to just go with it. I have to give a nod to the aforementioned cutely named classic, so that people know I’ve created a healthy keto version. Really, if I was to go with my gut here, these would be called something like Low Carb Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch Bars. Or maybe Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch Bars, although that’s a bit wordy for me. But it certainly is descriptive. If I could find a way to work in pork rinds without making it sound like a tongue twister, I’d do that too.
Because yep, this deliciously crunchy treat is made with crushed pork rinds. Does that wig you out? Some of you diehard low carbers won’t be in the least put off by that, but some newer folks might be a bit freaked out. I admit that there was a time when the idea of pork rinds in my dessert would have given me the heebie jeebies. Because I used to associate pork rind consumption with all sorts of unhealthy dietary practices. And let’s face it, some pork rinds are pretty darn junky, fried in some unhealthy oils. But I’ve come to understand that REAL chicharrones should basically be cooked right in their own fat. They are making quite a comeback and I’ve had some glorious ones at restaurants. I’ve even made my own homemade pork rinds…delicious but a lot of work and your house smells like fried food for days afterward.
And now there are some really great, truly healthy pork rinds on the market. They are pricier but worth it, in my opinion. I’ve tried a couple of brands and I definitely have my favourites. Bacon’s Heir has some great flavours but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they cook them in olive oil and not in the pork fat itself. I like the salt and pepper pork rinds from Epic but they are salty enough to sort of cut up my mouth if I eat more than a small amount at a time. I love the Classic Chile Salt pork rinds from 4505 Meats best as they are lighter and fluffier, but I don’t like their BBQ or Jalapeño Cheddar flavours. I also tried these Galactic Hog Skins because they were less expensive but I really did not like them much. Not light and crisp enough and the flavours all had an artificial taste to me.
In our little low carb world, things like Scotcheroos are typically off limits because they are made with crispy rice. But I’d been eyeing them for sometime, wondering if there was a way. Because peanut butter, caramel and chocolate, with something crispy in it? Heck yeah! So I decided to just go for it and crush up some pork rinds and see how it tasted. I ended up using the Epic salt and pepper flavour because I can easily get it at my local Whole Foods and New Seasons. I was a little worried the pepper flavour would come through but I knew that the saltiness would be perfect for a recipe like this. And yes, you did occasionally get a little fleck of pepper but it was kind of awesome. The end result was a seriously crispy, seriously delicious treat that was hard to resist. Kids loved them too, and have been begging me to make them again!
Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or waxed paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal.
In a large saucepan over medium low heat, combine the peanut butter, butter, and sweetener. Stir until melted and smooth, then stir in the caramel extract.
Add the crushed pork rinds and flaked coconut and stir to coat well, then press this mixture firmly into the prepared baking pan. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together. Spread over the chilled bars and let set in the fridge, about 20 minutes.
Lift the bars out by the parchment paper edges and cut into squares with a large, sharp knife. These are rich so cut into 20 to 25 squares.