A chewy and very coconutty fruit-sweetened crust topped with a creamy and billowy layer of coconut frosting = pure awesomeness.
My favorite part of this dessert is totally self-serving -- but hey, when you get to make the rules, why not! ;) I've always been a give me all the frosting kind of a gal, and the cream layer here is just lovely. It was so good I actually wanted to give it some extra weight rather than having it be just a topping.
So consider these coconut cream bars a mostly frosting with a bit of "cake" kind of a treat :) If that sounds like you... you know you need these!
Sort of a side note, but don't these bars look just like carrot cake? I was half expecting to have carrot cake when I pulled them out of the container to sample -- despite knowing there's no carrot in them. Strangely enough though, this gave me all kinds of new ideas. And no, not for a raw carrot cake -- that already exists here ;) . More for other flavors and add-ins into this particular treat, which is quite open to variation.
These bars are actually a melding of two of my favorite recipes from the blog: these raw cookies and these ginger turmeric lemon cream bars. These bars turned out just lovely, and if you're into coconut and sweet creamy bars, these are for you.
However, if you wanted to play around with the recipe and make some variations of it, here are some ideas:
- Add some pineapple chunks or chips to the base. These slices would be wonderful with a bit of extra tartness.
- Or add some lemon zest to the base and a bit of lemon juice in place of almond milk to the cream layer. A tiny touch of lemon flavor would transform these into delicious lemon coconut slices.
- Add a bit of shredded carrots to the base. I'd only do that if consuming these bars immediately or keeping frozen until serving, but it would be a lovely highlight.
- And of course you can do all kinds of things to the top of these slices (sprinkle with chopped pistachios, drizzle with chocolate, etc.). Somehow I wanted to leave mine blank -- like a blank canvas. I enjoyed the idea of all that clean "frosting" in its pure form. But I can see them being good decked out too, depending on your mood.
These bars can be kept refrigerated, which makes them great to have on hand for a soft and ready-to-eat treat. You can also of course keep them frozen and just thaw them out slightly if you prefer -- that's more ideal for longer term storage.
One last thing: make sure to read the notes about the specific type of coconut chips used to make these work, and also the alternatives.
I think you're all set now. Who's ready to dive in? :)
Coconut Cream Bars
Super easy to throw together no-bake creamy and sweet coconut cream slices. This recipe is gluten-free and grain-free, vegan, refined sugar-free and uses no added oils, and is easy to make nut-free.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 9 bars
- Category: Bars
- Method: No Bake
- Cuisine: Dessert
- 1 ½ cups soft honey dates, pitted*
- 1 cup thick toasted coconut chips (see notes**)
- 1 tbsp water
- ⅛ tsp salt
- optional: ¼ cup dried pineapple chunks or chips
- 5 tbsp coconut butter (manna)***
- ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or a nut-free plant milk of your choice)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- Process all base ingredients in a good processor into a sticky crumble. The final consistency should look roughly like this:
- Transfer the base mixture into a square 6" x 6" parchment-lined storage container. Press down firmly into an even crust. Cover with a second piece of parchment paper and use a flat-bottomed object (a bit like an "iron") to smooth out the top of the base layer. Remove the parchment from the top of the base and discard. Freeze this layer while working on the next step.
- Make sure all filling ingredients are at room temperature (it helps if the coconut butter is slightly warmed so that it blends more easily). Blend all cream layer ingredients in a small blender (I used my magic bullet for that) until smooth. Pour this mixture over the prepared crust.
- Tap the container lightly on the counter to smooth out the top and release air bubbles. Freeze for 1 hour (or refrigerate overnight) to set. Then slice into slices and enjoy! Keep the bars refrigerated.
**Honey dates have a particular sweet and slightly gritty texture to them, while still being soft and sticky, which is why I used them in this recipe. Other dates, like medjool, might be a bit too soft / pasty, or if too firm (like some deglet nour), might not be sticky enough. If you use another kind of date you might therefore need to adjust the recipe slightly — i.e. if your mixture is too pasty / sticky, add more almonds or almond flour, or if too chunky and not moist enough add another tablespoon of water (or more as needed) to get to the right texture.
**For the coconut chips, you’ll want to use ones that are as similar to these in texture and consistency (crisp, thick, and nicely toasted). They add a good dose of coconut flavor to this cake. I used these. You can usually find them at health food shops and the natural aisle of many grocery stores, or online (amazon or iherb etc.). If you can’t find those, look for something similar, just keep in mind that if you’re using finer chips, for example, you might need to make a bit more of the crust as they’ll process into a finer consistency. For a raw version, there are similar coconut chips available that are raw. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can use almonds or other nuts / seeds of your choice.
***Coconut butter / manna is a product made by the blending of shredded coconut (sort of like a nut butter, but from coconut). It’s not the same as coconut oil. A common brand available in stores in North America is Nutiva. You can also make your own at home if you’ve got a good food processor (there are instructions and a video tutorial on how to do that in my book Unconventional Treats).