Healthier magic cookie bars made grain-free, gluten-free and vegan with homemade sweetened condensed coconut milk.
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? Some people call them Seven Layer Bars but they have a 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.
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.
Make the crust – Combine the almond flour, shredded coconut, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt in a large bowl. Press firmly into a 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350ºF for 12-15 minutes or until your crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Make sweetened condensed coconut milk – While the crust is cooling, combine the coconut milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture has reduced by about half. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Pour the condensed milk over the crust and spread to the edges.
Add toppings – Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the condensed milk, then add the flaked coconut and then the pecans. Use your hands to press the mixture down slightly until the milk soaks upward into the toppings.
Bake – Bake the bars for 30 minutes at 350ºF until edges are browning a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30-60 minutes on a cooling rack. After cooling a bit, place the pan in the refrigerator to let them set up for at least two hours. If you’re in a rush you can freeze them for an hour instead.
Cut and enjoy – After cooling, lift the parchment out of the pan and place the bars on a cutting board or other flat surface. Cut the bars into 16 squares and dig in!
Any leftover bars should be wrapped or placed in an airtight container. They will keep for a couple days on the countertop but I recommend storing in the fridge or freezer for longer storage.
Be sure to check out the full collection of dessert recipes here on EBF as well.