Last month I went to Isaac’s school for a holiday celebration and as luck would have it, a parent had brought in Magic Cookie Bars for the teachers. Remember those bad boys? The graham cracker crust, chocolate chips, coconut and sweetened condensed milk… so rich and delicious! My mom used to make them and they were one of my favorite holiday baked goods.
At Isaac’s school that day, I couldn’t resist having a bite (or two). It was just as a good as I remembered it: before long the wheels started turning in my head and I had my mind set on making a version of my own. I can’t really call these healthy because they’re still decadent, but they’re made with wholesome ingredients and a bit healthier.
And I have a feeling that they would make an excellent Valentine’s Day treat to make for that special someone (or your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors)!
Having tasted the classic version only a day or two before I made this variation, I can honestly say they look and taste like the real deal. You could easily take them to a party, not tell anyone that they’re grain-free, dairy free and made with sweetened condensed coconut milk and people would go crazy for them.
I mean, how could they not…
Chocolate + coconut + nuts = magic.
I hope you all like these as much as we do!
- ¾ cup blanched almond flour (I made my own in my food processor)
- ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ⅛ cup coconut oil, liquid
- ½ Tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 can (13.5 oz) full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used enjoy life)
- 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a square (8×8) glass baking dish with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients for the crust in a large bowl and press firmly into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until your crust is golden brown in color. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
- While crust is cooling, in a saucepan over medium heat bring coconut milk and sugar to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring frequently until the mixture has reduced by half. The coconut milk mixture should be thick reduced to about ¾ cup. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour the sweetened condensed coconut milk over the crust and spread to the edges.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the condensed milk, then the flaked coconut, and then the pecans. Using your hands, press the mixture down a tiny bit until the milk soaks upward into the layers.
- Place in oven (still at 350) and bake for about 30 minutes, until edges are browning a bit. Remove from oven and cool for 30 to 60 minutes on a cooling rack. Once the bars have cooled a bit, place the pan in the refrigerator to allow the bars to set-up for at least two hours (or overnight). If you're in a rush you could put the bars in the freezer for an hour instead.
- After cooling, lift the parchment out of the pan and place bars on a cutting board or other flat surface. If the bars are coming from the freezer, you may need to let them thaw for a few minutes before cutting as they will be pretty firm. Cut bars into 16 squares and dig in! Any leftover bars should be wrapped or placed in a sealed container. They can be left out for a couple days or stored in the fridge or freezer for longer storage.
Any big plans for the weekend? I’m pumped because Isaac and I are in New York! I think we’re going to have a little free time to do some exploring so if you have any suggestions of things to do or see while we’re here (in the freezing temps), feel free to share.