Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Magic Bars (Gluten-Free + Vegan)
These Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Magic Bars are a sweet & gooey dessert bar with a hint of tropical flair. You’ll be hooked after one bite of the gooey vegan caramel and macadamia nuts! Gluten-free & vegan.
Oooh boy, this has been a week FULL of chocolatey goodness! I had actually planned on sharing a different recipe today. But, after I perfected these bars yesterday, I decided to bite the bullet and share them now while my excitement over these beauties is still super fresh. As in, I may or may not be intermittently eating a bar as I write this, so my gushing over this treat is spot on.
These are inspired by one of my all-time favorites – magic cookie bars. Traditionally, magic cookie bars (also sometimes called Hello Dolly Bars, or Seven Layer Bars) have a graham cracker crust, topped with sweetened condensed milk, walnuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut. They are SO good and they’re always a staple during the holidays.
A few years ago, I healthified the bars by making them gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and Paleo-friendly. These Paleo Magic Cookie Bars were a huge hit and they definitely rivaled the original. Since I made them, I’ve wanted to play around with the recipe a little bit.
Soo, I took a little inspiration from my recent trip to Costa Rica and added tropical flair. The crust has a hint of coconut and lime zest. These flavors add such a nice brightness when you take a bite. For the topping, we use dark chocolate chunks, big buttery macadamia nuts, and flakes of unsweetened coconut.
How to make vegan sweetened condensed milk
Traditional magic cookie bars use sweetened condensed milk. You can buy premade sweetened condensed coconut milk, or you can make this yourself. That’s what I did for this recipe! It does take a bit of time to make, so if you’re in a rush, use the premade kind. However, if you decide to make it yourself, you can assemble the rest of the recipe while the caramel is on the stove. The resulting homemade caramel sauce is thick, sweet, and absolutely perfect – it tastes just like non-vegan caramel.
Once it and the crust are ready, you’ll pour the sweetened condensed coconut milk over the crust. Then, top it with chocolate, macadamia nuts, and coconut. Time to bake it until golden and bubbling. As tempting as it is to cut into them immediately, you’ll need to wait for them to cool. Otherwise, the crust can crumble a bit. Refrigerating before cutting makes it even easier!
I also opted for a sprinkle of flaky sea salt (like I always do…). I think there’s pretty much no baked good that doesn’t benefit from a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. If your macadamia nuts are already salty, they may add that salty bite for you.
These dark chocolate macadamia nut magic bars are what gooey dessert dreams are made of! Enjoy!
Want more sweet treats?
- Paleo Magic Cookie Bars
- Chocolate, Coconut & Macadamia Nut Tart
- Magic Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
- Macadamia Nut Coconut Banana Muffins
These Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Magic Bars are a sweet & gooey dessert bar with a hint of tropical flair. You’ll be hooked after one bite of the gooey vegan caramel and buttery macadamia nuts on a gluten-free coconut lime crust.
For the caramel
- 1 (15 oz.) can full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the crust
- ½ cup almond flour
- ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut butter, melted
For the toppings
- ¾ cup dark chocolate chunks
- ½ cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
- ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- Flaky sea salt
For the coconut milk caramel
- In a large heavy saucepan, heat the coconut milk and sugar over medium heat, stirring often, until coconut milk begins to boil. Lower heat to simmer and reduce by ⅓ to ½, stirring often to prevent the sugar from scorching. If thicker, caramelized sugar begins to form on sides or bottom, use a whisk to reincorporate it.
- When it reaches the desired consistency, which will take about 25-30 minutes, add coconut oil and vanilla. Stir well to combine and remove from heat. You should end up with around a cup of caramel-colored, sweetened coconut milk.
For the crust/bars
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- While the caramel is simmering (be sure to continue stirring every few minutes), mix together the ground almonds, unsweetened coconut, lime zest, cinnamon, salt, and coconut butter. Sprinkle nut mixture into a parchment-lined 8×8 baking pan. Using your fingers or a spatula, press the mixture down in an even layer, covering the bottom of the baking dish.
- When the caramel is done, pour it evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and coconut flakes evenly over the crust and caramel. Press down with a fork until even and the caramel is coming through to the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Let chill in the refrigerator for about an hour or until completely chilled and set. Cut into 16 squares and serve!