Let me be straight forward here. This recipe is absolutely killer! I am not exaggerating. It is inspired by my grandma's chocolate hazelnut bars recipe. If that doesn't speak for itself, then let me tell you: my grandma has officially approved this veganized recipe. So, if you want to learn how to make these delicious vegan chocolate hazelnut bars, stick around.
You could say my grandma is the queen of chocolate hazelnut bars. Once it's Christmas time, the kitchen turns into a chocolate hazelnut bars factory. The weekly production rate reaches roughly 5 baking trays a week with significant peaks during the weekend. What ever cupboard door you open, I guarantee you: you will find a plate of chocolate hazelnut bars.
When I decided to change my diet to a plant-based one, I instantly knew I had to veganize this recipe. The method in my vegan chocolate hazelnut bars recipe is exactly how my grandma makes them. I just made some adjustments in the ingredients.
These bars consist of four bars: the base, an apricot jam layer, a hazelnut filling and a chocolate topping. The base was the most difficult to adapt because in my grandma's recipe she uses butter, eggs, flour and sugar. Trying to substitute two key ingredients can be a bit tricky.
As a substitute for butter you can use margarine in a 1:1 ratio. Not all margarine is vegan because some can contain traces of dairy such as whey or lactose. But I found a vegan brand that I am really happy with: Alsan. They sell it in my local grocery store (Rewe).
The eggs were a bit trickier. I experimented with soy flour (what you use to make seitan) and got some really good results. But I wasn't satisfied because soy flour can be hard to get the hand on and I wanted something easier.
The final recipe only uses margarine and water as binding ingredients. I've found that the dough can be a bit tricky to work with. The trick here is to wet your hands (use water or oil). And once baked, the dough holds together really well and you don't notice a difference.
The Apricot Jam Layer
Once you have rolled out your dough or pressed it into the baking tray (I use my hands), the next layer is some apricot jam. It is very subtle but I really like the sweetness it adds. My grandma heats up the jam in a saucepan so that it is easier to spread evenly.
Instead of apricot jam, you could also use peach or any other kind of jam, depending on what flavour you are going for. I could imagine that raspberry jam would go really well with these vegan chocolate hazelnut bars.
The Hazelnut Filling
The hazelnut layer has three ingredients in my grandma's recipe: butter, sugar and ground hazelnuts. So this was quite easy, simply replacing the butter with margarine. You can add a few drops of water if you find that the filling is too dry. It's consistency should however resemble cookie dough.
How do I know I got the right consistency?
Here's how I make sure the consistency is right. I usually use a large baking tray to bake the bars in but never make enough dough. Meaning, a part of the baking tray will stay empty. If the base and the hazelnut filling hold up their shape without spilling over into the empty parts, I know I got it right.
The Chocolate Topping
After baking the first three layers, we will add the chocolate topping. Simply melt some vegan chocolate (dark chocolate for example), pour over and distribute with a spatula. Before you cut the bars, you want the chocolate to be almost set. This makes it easy to cut the bars without messing with the chocolate but also not causing the chocolate to break.
Taking Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Bars to the Next Level
Now comes the fun part - toppings! There is so many possibilities you can customize these bars. My favourite is adding walnuts before I bake the bars. I roughly chop them and press them into the hazelnut filling. When you add the chocolate afterwards, you can't even tell there's walnuts. But they add a nice crunch and texture. My grandma was also really excited about this variation and now always add walnuts when she makes chocolate hazelnut bars.
Grandma's Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Bars
- 300g flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 130g sugar
- 130g margarine
- 5 tbsp water
- 150g margarine
- 150g sugar
- 250g ground hazelnuts
- 4 tbsp apricot jam
- 4 tbsp apricot jam
- 200g dark chocolate
- any toppings you like
- Preheat oven to 160° Celsius (320° Fahrenheit).
- Prepare the base: Combine flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Add margarine (at room temperature) and water and knead to form a dough. Add extra water if dough is too dry.
- Line a baking tin with parchment paper and press dough into the baking tin (I used a 26x38cm baking tin).
- Prepare hazelnut filling: Add margarine and sugar to a pot and melt on low heat. Stir in the ground hazelnuts and let cool slightly.
- Spread a layer of apricot jam on the base. Then add the hazelnut filling and spread evenly. At this point, add toppings if you like.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Chocolate layer: Melt the chocolate and pour over the hazelnut filling. Spread evenly with a spoon or spatula.
- Put the baking tin in a fridge or a cool place for the chocolate to cool. Cut into squares or triangles and enjoy!
Wet hands with water or oil so it is easier to press the dough into the baking tin.
If you are using a smaller baking tin, make sure to adapt the measurements. The hazelnut filling should be 1-2 cm thick so that it cooks properly.