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
Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Magic Bars
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 70 minutes
- Yield: 16 bars 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: 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 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!
Can you believe that I’ve never made a magic bar?! I definitely need to change that after seeing this gorgeousness. You had me drooling over your snapchats! I love the macadamia nuts in here. Sounds like the perfect amount of crunch!
No way!!! You’ve got to try the original in all their sugary caloric glory haha…they’re SOOO good. Thanks Gayle :)
It must be magic bar season or something! My grandma just brought over a huge tray of magic bars the other day and I am completely obsessed! I was already planning on finding a recipe to make ’em and then you post this HEALTH-FIED version!! I seriously cannot even stand how gorgeous these look—I’d eat them all in one sitting!
P.S. your photos are STUNNING, Rachel!!
Awww thank you Sarah, you’re giving me big Friday morning smiles!! Lucky you to get a tray of them brought to you :)
Everything’s always mouth-watering here and this is another fine example!
I love magic bars!! Your version looks delicious without being so unhealthy. I’m loving that!
Rachel these look INSANELY good! I haven’t made magic bars in forever, and now I don’t understand why. This recipe needs to happen in my kitchen now!
These magic bars are seriously dreamy! Love the vegan caramel- coconut milk is just the best :) Pinning!
What is the difference between dessicated coconut and the flake coconut? I have unsweetened shredded coconut. Could I use that for both?
Hi Deborah. Dessicated is the same as unsweetened shredded coconut – that kind that’s in very fine shreds. That’s what best for the crust because it’s so fine. The flaked is thicker and has better texture for the topping – I added links to the kinds I use into the ingredients list so you can see what I mean. Hope this helps!
Ooooh my goodness, these look so great Rachel! I love macadamia nuts in desserts but I never really think to use them in recipes at home. You’ve convinced me!
These kinds of bars always speak to me. I have to say that it’s so brilliant how you swapped out the sweetened condensed milk for coconut milk. I love feeling better about these bars. Great idea!
These bars are fabulous! I always loved the 7 layer bar. But your choice of macadamia nuts is perfect here and the touch of lime in the crust, yum!! Take care.
These look epically good, Rachael! And just look at all of those wholesome ingredients…loving everything about this recipe.
Oh yes, these sound amazing. I love any 7-layer bars, but adding mac nuts just takes them to a whole new level of yum! Love the lime zest in the crust too… such great tropical flavors!
Oh my GOODNESS! These bars look insane in the best way! Magic bars are SO good and I love all the coconut in here! Healthier too? Sign me up!
Magic bars is right! Dark chocolate and macadamia nuts are one of my favorite combos so loving this recipe and can’t wait to make them :)
Oh wow these look amazing!!! I’ll have to make them as soon as possible, thank you for so many great recipes! :-)
Thank you for this lovely Macadamia Nut recipe!
It looks like something I could do Raw, save for the Caramel. Are there any adjustments you could suggest so I can make a raw version of this where it sets in the fridge or freezer.
Hi Udayan, I’m not sure this recipe would be easy to do raw, because baking is required to help everything stick together. I would have to write an entirely new recipe to make that happen, sorry.
I made these today and they are not good. I am a baker and wanted to add these to me vegan offerings. The coconut oil congealed around the edges and looks like hardened fat/lard. The “caramel” layer did not get thick, even after cooking for 35 minutes. I am so disappointed. Did anyone else actually make them? They look so delicious and I followed the recipe to the letter (except using coconut oil instead of coconut butter.) Thanks!
Hi Kris, so sorry you didn’t enjoy them! Did they taste bad? Did you continue cooking until the caramel thickened or just stopped at 35 minutes? You may have needed to simmer at a higher temp so it reduced more quickly. You may want to try using pre-made sweetened condensed coconut milk if you’re having issues making it yourself.
Thank you for the reply! I did stop cooking at 35 minutes, but the caramel had a bit of a burnt taste. I actually love the idea of using the premade coconut milk, although it is so much more expensive. The function I brought them too I received feedback that the foundation of the bar was there, but poorly executed, so I am determined to tweak and try again. I will keep you posted. As a baker (I have a cottage food bakery) I am looking for quality gluten free and vegan options, so I had high hopes for this recipe.
One question, I really didn’t like the hardened coconut oil on the edges; that doesn’t have anything to do with the caramel issue. Would using the coconut butter yield a different result?
Hi Kris, totally understand your frustration! The condensed coconut milk would definitely solve the coconut oil problem, and you could also try just leaving the coconut oil out of the caramel part – my guess is that it separated out. I definitely have a lot of other simpler gluten-free vegan recipes on my site that you may want to try! This one has a few more areas where things can go wrong.