healthy magic bars on white background

Healthier magic cookie bars made grain-free, gluten-free and vegan with homemade coconut cream caramel and a shortbread cookie base.

I ate a magic bar for the first time when I was 19. What was this magical cookie creation? This mixture of chocolate and coconut and nuttiness was amazing. They’re one of those kitchen sink kind of desserts where there’s just a whole bunch of yummiess all rolled into one.

My roommate’s dad was known for his magic bars. He brought them to swim meets for the team and I was just kinda amazed that I went so long in my life without crossing paths of these magical cookie bars. How could I even consider myself a sweet tooth?

After years of thinking about them I decided it was about time I made my own magic bars cookie recipe. But, I’m making them a bit healthier (as I do) with an almond flour base and a coconut cream caramel that you can make quick and easy on your stovetop.

stack of magic bar cookies on a white table and white gray background

Over the years you’ve probably seen some version of these bars at your favorite potluck:

  • Hello Dolly Bars
  • Coconut Dream Bars
  • Seven Layer Bars
  • Magic Cookie Bars
  • Coconut Magic Squares…

Personally, I don’t care what you call them, I’d just like the whole pan to myself, k thx.

Traditionally magic cookie bars have a graham cracker crust and use condensed milk. In this recipe I’m making a shortbread cookie crust using almond flour and topping it off with a homemade coconut cream caramel, dark chocolate chips, some shredded coconut, and walnuts.

I mean, how could you go wrong with chocolate + nuts + coconut + caramel? You can’t. It’s impossible. It’s one of those desserts that uses better for you ingredients but you don’t even care because it tastes so good.

So let’s make these Healthier Magic Bars! It’s so simple! First you want to bake your shortbread base. Mix together the refined coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla. Add the blanched almond flour and salt. Fold until combined.

magic bar cookie with a bite taken out on white background

Line a 9×9 square pan with parchment paper and transfer the shortbread cookie dough into the pan. Use damp hands to press the cookie into a single layer across the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until the cookie base is golden brown.

While the cookie is baking, place the coconut cream and coconut sugar in a saucepan over high heat. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil for about 10 – 15 minutes until it reduces. The great thing about this caramel is it isn’t as touchy as traditional homemade caramels. Don’t be scared to keep the temp high, just stand over it and whisk almost constantly. Once the caramel has thickened up, transfer to a bowl and add the shredded coconut and walnuts, reserving about 1 – 2 tablespoons to sprinkle on top. Set aside for 15 minutes to allow the caramel to cool.

Pour the caramel mixture on top of the shortbread cookie crust and spread it out in an even layer with a rubber spatula. Top with the remaining chocolate chips, walnuts, and coconut shreds. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours to allow it to set (overnight is best). If you are in a rust you can pop them in the freezer for 1 hour.

After cooling, pull the edges of the parchment paper to remove the bars from the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into 16 bars. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy!

magic bar cookie leaning on top of another magic bar cookie

Print

Healthier Magic Bars (Vegan + Gluten Free)

  • Author: Lindsay Grimes Freedman
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 min
  • Yield: 16 bars 1x
  • Category: desserts
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: cookies

Description

Healthier magic cookie bars made grain-free, gluten-free and vegan with homemade coconut cream caramel and a shortbread cookie base.


Scale

Ingredients

Cookie Base:

  • 1/2 cup refined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (honey or maple syrup also works)
  • splash of vanilla (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • couple pinches of pink salt

Toppings:

  • 1 can (15 oz) unsweetened coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 /2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk together the refined coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the blanched almond flour and salt and fold until combined.
  4. Line a 9×9 square pan with parchment paper and transfer the cookie dough into the pan.
  5. Use damp hands to press the cookie into a single layer across the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until the cookie base is golden brown.
  7. While the cookie is baking, place the coconut cream and coconut sugar in a saucepan over high heat.
  8. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil for about 10 – 15 minutes until it reduces. The great thing about this caramel is it isn’t as touchy as traditional homemade caramels. Don’t be scared to keep the temp high, just stand over it and whisk almost constantly.
  9. Once the caramel has thickened up, transfer to a bowl and add the unsweetened coconut shreds and walnuts, reserving about 1 – 2 tablespoons to sprinkle on top.
  10. Set aside for 15 minutes allowing the caramel to cool.
  11. Pour the caramel mixture on top of the shortbread cookie crust and spread it out in an even layer with a rubber spatula.
  12. Top with the chocolate chips, remaining walnuts and coconut shreds.
  13. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours to allow it to set (overnight is best). If you are in a rust you can pop them in the freezer for 1 hour.
  14. After cooling, pull the edges of the parchment paper to remove the bars from the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into 16 bars. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy!

Enjoy!! xo

magic cookie bars on white background pinterest image