We’d be hard pressed to find a better recipe for an incredibly tasty, gluten free and vegan dessert for the holidays than Earth Balance’s Coco-Peanut Butter Magic Bars.
This gluten free and vegan twist on a classic 7-layer or magic bar recipe begins with vegan “sweetened condensed milk” that’s made with coconut milk, a little sugar and a pinch of patience. The reward is a thick, creamy “milk” that’s just as velvety as its dairy based cousin. The second magic act is stirring in Earth Balance Coconut & Peanut Spread for added richness and a boost of peanut flavor. (It’s not suprising that Earth Balance Coconut & Peanut Spread was just selected by Oprah for her 2012 Favorite Things list!)
This recipe is versatile and can be adapted to your taste. See the suggestions at the end of the recipe to make substitions like using dried fruit instead of chocolate chips, or swapping the type of cookie crumbs in the crust.
The end result is pretty enough for holiday party favors – simply cut the bars into 1-inch squares and wrap in parchment paper, twisting the ends like taffy.
Keep reading for the recipe!
COCO-PEANUT BUTTER MAGIC BARS
Recipe from Earth Balance
Makes 16 2-inch bars
Peanut Butter Coconut Cream
- 3 cups coconut milk (a little less than 2 15 oz cans)
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, agave or maple syrup
- 1/4 cup Earth Balance Coconut & Peanut Spread (Creamy or Chunky)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (7 oz of crackers, 1 1/2 packages)
- 1/2 cup Earth Balanc Organic Coconut Spread
- 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, peanuts)
- 2 cups vegan chocolate chips
- 1 1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
For the Coconut Peanut Butter Cream, combine coconut milk and brown sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it starts to simmer. Turn heat to medium and cook slowly, until mixture reduces by half, stirring occasionally. This will take about 40 minutes, but it will be worth it!
When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, stir in coconut peanut spread and vanilla, mixing until the coconut peanut spread melts into the “milk.” Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×9 baking dish with foil or parchment paper.
For the crust, place the crushed graham crackers in a bowl. Melt the coconut spread in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir the coconut spread into the graham cracker crumbs and mix well. Press crumbs into the baking dish, using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to press the mixture evenly.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of the Coconut Peanut Butter Cream over the crust. Top with chopped nuts, chocolate chips and coconut (in that order). Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is golden.
Remove from oven, allow to cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight before cutting.
Nutrition (per serving, one 2-inch square bar): 214 calories; 3g protein; 16g total fat (5g saturated fat); 20g carb; 0mg cholesterol; 117mg sodium; 3g fiber; 10g sugars
HOLIDAY IDEAS & SUBSTITUTIONS
- Replace 1 cup of regular chocolate chips with 1 cup peanut butter or white chocolate chips.
- Replace 1 cup of regular chocolate chips with 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots and 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries.
- Switch out gluten free graham crackers with your favorite gluten free cookie or buttery cracker. Try vanilla shortbread cookies, butter crackers (add a few teaspoons of sugar along with the melted coconut spread), chocolate cookies, or grind 1 cup of nuts and mix with 1/2 cup almond meal plus 1 tablespoon chia seeds.
- Cut the bars into 1-inch bites and wrap in squares of parchment paper, twisting at the ends like taffy. Bring as a hostess gift, or set out for dessert at the end of a holiday dinner for a fun (portion controlled!) and festive dinner party treat.