she cooks…he cleans

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Paleo Magic Cookie Bars

Grain-free and “dairy-optional”

Remember Magic Cookie Bars?  Those gooey clusters of graham cracker crumbs covered with milk chocolate chips, nuts, sweet coconut flakes and drenched with sweetened condensed milk.  Neither do I….ha!  I’ve been in major denial of this particular obsession, but no longer.  Today we have Paleo-friendly, Magic Cookie Bars with no grains, no processed sugar, and no dairy (if you use coconut butter instead of pastured butter).  I’m not saying these bars are “lite” by any means – plenty of richness here with dark chocolate, nuts, and coconut oils – but they are far better for you than the original cookie bar recipe.

These are a great “treat” for Halloween!



  • 1/2 cup (heaping) ground almonds or almond meal
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) ground walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons pastured butter or coconut butter, melted


  • 6 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 3 ounces unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly pulsed in food processor
  • 4 ounces coarsely chopped pecans or almonds
  • 1 15.5 ounce can coconut milk (full-fat)
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sweetened Coconut Milk

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a 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 1/3 to 1/2, 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, in around 30 minutes, add 2 tablespoons coconut butter and vanilla.  Stir well and remove from heat.  You should end up with a little over a cup of caramel-colored, sweetened coconut milk.

To make the crust, melt the butter/coconut butter in an 8×8 baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix together the ground almonds, ground walnuts, and cinnamon.  Sprinkle nut mixture over the melted butter and  stir until the butter is evenly mixed with the nuts.  Using your fingers, press the mixture down in an even layer, covering the bottom of the baking dish.

Ready for the oven!

Sprinkle the chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and coconut flakes evenly over the crust.  Pour the sweetened coconut milk over everything.  Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.

Here’s the hard part:  Do not eat it now!  Allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the cookie bars will set.  Otherwise they will be a mess coming out of the pan – cookie crumbles are much less festive.

Cut into bars and serve!  Feel decadent!

Celebration day here at SCHC, for a new Tom Waits record has arrived! His first studio record in seven years, Bad As Me is great, and full of the musical stew that only Tom can make. Featuring an all star group of musicians including Keith Richards, Flea and Marc Ribot, this is primo Waits.

22 comments on “Paleo Magic Cookie Bars

  1. CherylM
    October 28, 2011

    These look yummy, going to make them this weekend. One question, what would be a good sub for the coconut palm sugar? I have agave on hand, would that work?

    • She cooks...He cleans
      October 28, 2011

      I think any natural sweetener would work…I had considered honey and maple syrup too. You want the coconut milk to be really sweet and thickened a little, so it is similar to the sweetened condensed milk in the original recipe. Since the chocolate, coconut, and crust are not sweet, it all balances out in the end.

      I’m not sure how much agave would do it…maybe 1/3 cup? You may also have to cook it a little longer for it to reduce. Let me know how it turns out in case others would like to try it!

  2. CherylM
    October 28, 2011

    Thank you, I’ll give it a try and let you know how it turns out.

  3. Pasquale
    October 28, 2011

    Remember them? I don’t believe this. Two nights ago I was asking my mother to find this old recipe so I could come up with a paleo/primal version. Now I don’t have to! This makes me really happy. Mom always made them at Christmas time.

    I was thinking I’d have to miss all those treats this year. This is one I’ll definitely be making.

  4. urbanchickpea
    November 18, 2011

    These look fantastic!! Always looking for treats that are flour and dairy-free. How creative making a fake-out dulce de leche with coconut milk–I’ll have to try that in a new recipe!

  5. laura
    November 22, 2011

    these need a warning label “you may possibly eat the entire pan” they came out so good! thank you, I think? lol

  6. She cooks...He cleans
    November 22, 2011

    Thanks for the comments, and I’m glad they turned out well for you Laura! It is hard to stop eating them. We had to live on “an allowance” so we didn’t pig out on them!

  7. Meagan (@mnuffins)
    November 27, 2011

    Oh my gosh, GREAT ingredient list, LOOKS divine, want to make these now!!

  8. chelseafenwick
    January 29, 2012

    Reblogged this on chelsababe.

  9. Mary
    February 2, 2012

    The boyfriend and I bring bagged lunches to work now, and these would be the perfect addition for a healthy dessert! Thanks!

  10. Pingback: Healthier Magic Cookie Bars

  11. Susan Napolitano
    April 12, 2012

    Rather than just a ping-back wanted to make a proper post… just shared the love for this one on my Paleo site! Thanks again Nancy 🙂

  12. Bonnie
    May 4, 2012

    Thank you so much for the “sweetened condensed milk” substitute especially. While I do love magic cookie bars, I was on the hunt for a scm substitute when I came across this recipe. I found yesterday a great-looking recipe to make a frappachino knock-off that calls for scm – I think this will fit the bill nicely!

  13. terya
    July 21, 2012

    What would be an acceptable sub for coconut butter? That’s the only ingredient I’m lacking!

  14. Nancy
    July 21, 2012

    In the crust, you can certainly use butter (if you don’t have a problem with dairy). If avoiding dairy, maybe walnut oil or almond oil would be good.

    In the topping mixture, I think butter will work too, but I’m not sure. It may also be okay to leave it out, since there is fat in the coconut milk. Let me know how it comes out!

  15. Janet
    January 21, 2013

    Could you please tell me what kind of coconut butter you use? I can’t find it locally and want to order it.. I HAVET to try these cookies!! I purchased coconut cream concentrate but it was a rock hard block and I have no idea how to use it! Thanks!

    • She cooks...He cleans
      January 21, 2013

      For these cookies, I’m pretty sure I used Artisana Raw Coconut Butter, but you could also use coconut oil as well. Coconut butters and oils are solid at room temperature, so don’t be alarmed if they are not liquid. The coconut butter is particularly good in these cookies because it contains both coconut oil and coconut pulp, adding more flavor. I generally use plain coconut oils for pan-frying or roasting.

      I’m not sure what coconut cream concentrate is, but my guess it is the cream off the top of coconut milk. There might be a way to use that in place of (or with) the coconut milk, but since I haven’t used it I can’t advise you about that.

      I hope this helps! Here’s a link to the coconut butter – there are other brands and sizes available:

      • foodrevelation
        January 22, 2013

        Thank you for the reply!! Can’t wait to try them! 🙂

  16. Pingback: 25 Paleo Cookie Recipes | illi style

  17. Rachel @ Bakerita
    June 10, 2014

    These are in the oven right now, and smell heavenly! So excited to dig in 🙂 Magic Cookie Bars are a family favorite, but now that most of my family is GF and we try to eat grain-free, these are perfect! 🙂

  18. Pingback: Paleo Magic Cookie Bars - Bakerita

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