Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (vegan + grain-free)

by on January 24, 2014

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)!

Healthier Magic cookie bars (vegan + grain-free)

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.

Healthier Magic cookie bars (vegan + grain-free)

I mean, how could they not…

Healthier Magic cookie bars (vegan + grain-free)

Chocolate + coconut + nuts = magic.

Healthier Magic cookie bars (vegan + grain-free) -- Perfect for Valentine's Day

I hope you all like these as much as we do!

4.7 from 6 reviews

Magic cookie bars (vegan + grain-free)
Cook time
Total time
Adapted from Simply Living Healthy.
Serves: 16
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. :)

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Shel@PeachyPalate January 24, 2014 at 7:44 am

These look great!! Right up my street!


emily January 24, 2014 at 7:58 am

I hope you have a good trip, the cold is brutal here! The Brooklyn Brewery tour is great and it’s free on weekends.


Melissa @ Nourish By Melissa January 24, 2014 at 8:30 am

These look incredible! Is the difference between flaked and shredded coconut major? Or can I sub shredded for both?


Abbie @ Needs Salt January 24, 2014 at 9:27 am

These bars look totally delicious! I love that they’re vegan. beautiful job!


Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 24, 2014 at 9:54 am

Yum these look delicious! I’ve been looking for a new sweet healthier recipe to try this weekend :)


Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment January 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm

These look amazing! I have to try these. Enjoy your weekend in the city!


carrie January 24, 2014 at 2:44 pm

If you haven’t been to Pure Food and Wine restaurant.. that is a must! Amazing raw vegan food . The menu is like heaven for a vegan :) .


Brandy January 24, 2014 at 4:07 pm

These are my boyfriend’s favorite dessert! I never thought to test out a healthier (basically, dairy and gluten free) version, but if I do that means that I get to do some of the tasting too!


Catherine January 25, 2014 at 1:10 am

Wow these look so good! You are an inspiration. I will definitely be trying these!


elena January 25, 2014 at 1:54 am

Always like your recipes!


Mylinda Moore January 25, 2014 at 8:29 am

What a great recipe Brittany! So glad Isaac called to let us know you did a redo! My coworker has also made an autumn magic cookie bar recipe (think it has apples and maybe pumpkin too). I’ll send you that one if you want to experiment with that too.

Can’t wait to try the recipe. I wonder if there is something that can replace the almond flour since Caroline can’t have nuts. I always do a batch without nuts for her when I make the unhealthy version.

Hope you and Mr. Isaac have a great time in NYC.


Chelsea January 25, 2014 at 8:08 pm

These look beyond amazing! I will definitely be trying these soon, thanks for posting the recipe!


Pink Peppercorn and Paprika January 26, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Thank you for this recipe!! My friend used to make these all the time and I could not resist them! I will have to have her try this version to see if she will be able to tell they are GF and V. PS if you are still in New York- I highly recommend Pala for some GF V pizza. It is the best I have ever tried :)


Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 27, 2014 at 12:33 am

These look amazing! My mom used to make the less-healthy version all the time. I’m going to have to make these for her. :)


Camille @ Challenge Mantra January 27, 2014 at 1:15 am

You take amazing photos, and I’m so excited to have all of these ingredients on hand in my pantry. Guess I know what I’m making this week :)


Parita @ myinnershakti January 27, 2014 at 1:35 pm

My aunt and I used to make the original version every time I visited her. I sent her a link to this recipe, and she’s so excited to try it. Personally, I love how it’s still decadent and rich. Can’t wait to try it myself.


Taelyr February 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I made these tonight and they were REALLY GOOD!! My gluten free husband loved magic cookie bars so I’m glad I found a good gf version for him.


Amanda F. February 3, 2014 at 2:27 pm

I made these this weekend and they were fantastic! My friends loved them and there’s no way anyone would be able to tell these were made with 100% wholesome and nourishing ingredients. I’m going to make them for my colleagues this week and then tell them how healthful they are only after they’ve tried them. I get such a kick out of that.


ball February 4, 2014 at 3:39 am

Thank you for share.I like to eat cookies.Wow these look so good!


Alyssa February 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm

These were good. But I couldn’t get the coconut milk/coconut sugar to reduce and thicken. Any tips?


Brittany Mullins February 26, 2014 at 4:14 pm

hmmmm.. it does take quite a long time (about 45 minutes) — did you have it simmering for that long? Perhaps it wasn’t at a high enough heat during the simmer? I would also make sure the top of your pot is off while simmering. Hope these ideas help!


Sarah March 10, 2014 at 5:41 am

I made these cookie bars last week and, even though they were slightly singed, they were delish! I made them again yesterday and they were even better because I didn’t burn them this time! My mum used to make the 7 layer cookie bars on rare occasions when I was a kid, and I remember them as yummy, delectable treats – and very rich. This vegan, refined-sugar free recipe is just as good – actually better since they are so benign.

Many thanks for the great recipe!


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