Tiffany Scarola’s Paleo Twix Bars are a healthy gluten-free favorite among her friends that evolved as an adaptation to special dietary needs.
She loved the commercially-produced Twix bars, but couldn’t eat them.
“They are definitely a lot healthier for you and they are gluten-free and vegan,” Scarola said. “I usually buy organic ingredients. There’s no refined sugar, of any kind. And the thing I hear the most from people is that they can’t even tell. They actually love these. People specifically ask me for these, and it’s also people that don’t have any dietary restrictions. They love these. It’s a completely healthy version of a candy bar.”
She’s not a vegan, so she doesn’t always cook strictly vegan. With much of her cooking there are alternate versions of recipes that she uses, depending on how she feels and who she’s cooking for.
This recipe evolved because of a medical condition.
“I do have celiac disease, so I could never really eat foods with wheat, barley or rye in them. I did not get diagnosed until I was in my late 20s, so I had to start finding alternatives to the way I was eating. I just started doing random searches on the internet. There are all kinds of boards dedicated to this kind of thing. It was kind of nice to find something I could have. So I just started wandering around the internet, because I like to cook.”
She cannot have any ingredients with gluten.
“I’ve figured out what I can get without having to rely on brand names. I make everything,” Scarola said. “I can’t use a lot of prefab stuff, because it has a wheat product in it or something.”
She suggested that some people might be allergic to chocolate, or may have a nut allergy, so alternate fillings might make sense for some people, but she doesn’t do that.
“They are a lot of work. It takes at least 24 hours, but they make a lot, depending on how you cut them,” Scarola said about the bars.
Whenever she makes them, she sets some aside for friends, some of whom will freeze them and eat them cold. She does the same, because her grandmother used to put Milky Way bars in the freezer.
“She used to store all candy bars in the freezer. So they do freeze well,” Scarola said.
Many of those friends also teach with her in the English department at Bowling Green State University.
“I started making them for Common Meal, which was a sort of potluck thing we used to do in the English department once a month,” Scarola said. “I was afraid to make them, but people finished them off before the event was done and now they ask if I’m bringing my Twix bars.”
She attributes her cooking skills to her mother and cooking shows on public television.
“My mother used to have me read her books to her in the kitchen. I also grew up in the ‘90s and watched ‘Wok with Yan,’ and ‘The Frugal Gourmet,’ stuff like that. There was also the guy from Louisiana, with big red suspenders. I always liked it. It was always fun,” she said. “I was in second or third grade and she would have me read ‘Classics Illustrated’ and other books in the kitchen.”
She said that something from that stuck, because now she’s an English teacher giving the courses in technical communication for science and technology and first year writing.
She’s finishing up her seventh year at BGSU. She graduated from DePaul University in 2013 and then taught for a year at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
She’s been making these bars for about seven years.
“I have changed a few things about them, especially how I used to cut them and dip them. I used to do them in layers now I cut them out individually. I also know how to make them a little crunchier. The dough was a little chewy. I used to just put the chocolate on top and now I coat them in the chocolate.
“This is the version that is the best version, so I see no reason to change them.”
Scarola does not add any extra salt, but some of the recipes she has seen have varying levels of salt added. She uses Sam’s Club’s Member’s Mark almond butter which is salted.
”I have made it for years. I go based on taste a lot. The brand I buy is a little salty. Some brands don’t have it,” Scarola said. “Salt doesn’t really affect how it bakes, and it’s a very personal thing. I’ve personally never had anybody ask for extra salt for anything I’ve ever made.”
She uses McCormick’s butter extract.
“All my cookbooks contain corrections and revisions,” Scarola said.