Creamy Chocolate Coconut Layer Bars

by Jess on May 9, 2013

in Dessert, Gluten Free, Recipes

Thai class. Learning to speak Thai has been, in a word, humbling. The Thai language continues to elude me, but seeing as I do live here, I’m not giving up any time soon. I was sitting in my language class this week, feeling utterly lost, and craving chocolate.

Because isn’t chocolate an obvious solution for most ails?

Creamy Chocolate Coconut Layer Bars

It’s entirely my own doing that I equate a difficult Thai class with dessert.  When we had just moved to Bangkok I was in a Thai class of expats from all over the world. There was a car wash owner from France, a DJ from Norway, a teacher from Egypt, and a Canadian author. In my months in that class, we were never able to communicate all that effectively in Thai, so we gravitated towards whatever amount of English we could each speak (lucky for me).

We communicated in spotty English and in the universal language of desserts. I baked often for that class, and when I opened a container of cookies or brownies in our small, sunny classroom, we didn’t have to speak at all to share them.

Creamy Chocolate Coconut Layer Bars

 So last week I shored up for the coming weeks of Thai class, and I baked these bars. They are made with coconut flour which makes them gluten-free and turns the base into a soft, almost fudgy cookie with a faint hint of coconut flavor. The topping couldn’t be simpler – just chocolate chips and coconut flakes with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. The whole thing gets toasty in the oven for a bit of crunch, but retains a creamy, sweet quality as well.

They might shore me up for a few more weeks of Thai.

Creamy Chocolate Coconut Layer Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These sweet layer bars use coconut flour in the base for a creamy texture and a double-dose of coconut flavor.
Recipe type: Dessert, Gluten-Free
Serves: 16
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 and ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 and ¼ cups shredded coconut (see note)
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 baking dish with butter and line with parchment paper so that a bit of the parchment paper is hanging over the sides (this will makes it very easy to pull the bars out in one piece when they finish baking).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, light brown sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter, eggs and almond extract all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it with the spoon until it evenly lines the bottom of the pan. Bake until it just begins to set, 8 minutes.
  3. Remove the crust from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Sprinkle the shredded coconut evenly over the chocolate chips. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk in even stripes across the coconut.
  4. Return the bars to the oven and bake just until the coconut is golden brown, 13-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.
  5. These can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
You can use either sweetened or unsweetened coconut in this recipe. I prefer my desserts a bit on the less sweet side, so I had a slight preference for the unsweetened coconut in this recipe, but both versions were good.


I’ve got my eye on gluten-free bars and cakes of late – here are a few that have been tempting me:

Gluten-free Dee-luxe Coffeecake by The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking (I love everything about Kate’s blog, but the thick, sticky topping of this coffeecake is downright irresistable)

Paleo Chocolate Coconut Slice by Claire K Creations (my friend Claire is a magician when it comes to turning coconut flour into baked treats – these look particularly delicious)

Gluten-Free Lemon Bars by Elizabeth Barbone via Serious Eats (whether we eat gluten or not, I think we should all be making these lemon bars)

Gluten-free Brownies by Gluten-Free Girl (she’s the best, so you know these are good)


Creamy Chocolate Coconut Layer Bars

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Allison May 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm

These look amazingly delicious!!! I miss your food!


2 Alyssa {Suitcases & Sweets} May 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I am definitely pinning these. They look fabulous! And lucky for your blind Thai teacher, I bet they taste just as amazing as they look. ;)
Alyssa {Suitcases & Sweets} recently posted..Beaufort & Biscuit Bread PuddingMy Profile


3 Jess May 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm

You, friend, have the most incredible memory of ANYONE. My Thai teacher has a serious sweet tooth and a sense of smell like you wouldn’t believe!


4 Liz May 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Thank you for the lovely recipe. Love the combination of ingredients. Have a wonderful day.


5 Jess May 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Thanks so much, Liz. Coconut and chocolate just work!


6 Karista May 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

I love, I love, I love! It’s early morning here and I wish I had one of these for breakfast. :) Think I’ll be making these this weekend. Thanks Jess!
Karista recently posted..Asparagus and Leek Soup with Crispy Mushroom GremolataMy Profile


7 Jess May 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Coconut counts as a breakfast food, Karista, so I’d totally be in support of one of these first thing in the morning. ;)


8 sally @ sallys baking addiction May 10, 2013 at 5:06 am

Yes, chocolate is a cure all. It’s just a guaranteed “make me feel better’ indulgence. And these coconut layer bars would make me feel 100% again. Good luck continuing to learn Thai, Jess! I could never do it!
sally @ sallys baking addiction recently posted..Easy Cinnamon Rolls (from scratch).My Profile


9 Averie @ Averie Cooks May 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Jess I love these!! I saw them on FG and I am a huge fan of 7 layer bars/hello dolly/magic bars and layered bars in general and these are right up my alley. Pinned!


10 Jess May 11, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Me too, Averie! I completely forgot how much I love 7 layer bars until I made these and immediately wanted them to be topped with sweetened condensed milk. Will definitely need to be making more 7 layer bar variations in the future!


11 Claire @ Claire K Creations May 10, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Ooh nom nom nom!!! I’ve been experimenting with coconut flour recently too.
Well done to even learning a little bit of Thai. It sounds so complicated.
Claire @ Claire K Creations recently posted..In my kitchen – May 2013My Profile


12 Jess May 11, 2013 at 6:27 pm

It’s SO complicated, Claire. Sheesh. You are my coconut flour inspiration – can’t wait to see what you come up with!


13 Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat May 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm

These sound awesome! Love the fact that they’re gluten free! Pinned!
Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted..Crazy for HoneyMy Profile


14 Katie (The Muffin Myth) May 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Oh, I hear you on the language classes, lady. I just finished 14 weeks of Saturday morning Swedish classes, and I am not sad they’re done (for now). I can’t even imagine learning Thai! These bars are reminiscent of a graham cracker crumb crusted ‘gooey square’ my family loves to make. The condensed milk makes everything so caramelly and delish. I haven’t played with coconut flour yet, but this looks like the perfect intro. Thanks for another amazing recipe!
Katie (The Muffin Myth) recently posted..chocolate banana bread smoothieMy Profile


15 Jess May 11, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Mmmm, gooey square? That sounds fantastic – the condensed milk really does work magic on desserts. I am so impressed with you, Katie – finishing school, starting a full time job, AND taking Swedish classes!?


16 Maria May 30, 2013 at 12:15 pm

These look so amazing! I’m gonna try these over my “cheat weekend” :) I was in Thailand for 5 years, but I don’t think I remember any of my Thai… (maybe just the anthem hehe) I wish I had you in my class with these!
Maria recently posted..Easy Gluten Free PancakesMy Profile


17 Erin @ The Emerging Foodie July 12, 2013 at 9:56 am

Oh my goodness, I think I’m going to have to make these ASAP, too! So good.
Erin @ The Emerging Foodie recently posted..Chocolate Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt Mini-PiesMy Profile


18 Liz July 16, 2013 at 9:13 pm

These look so wonderful Thank you, Jess.


19 Erin @ The Emerging Foodie August 10, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Hey Jess! Question. I want to make these this weekend for a church group I’m going to on Thursday night… do you know if they’ll stay good that long (Sunday to Thursday)? Or could I freeze them?
Erin @ The Emerging Foodie recently posted..Tofu Curry ScrambleMy Profile


20 Jess August 11, 2013 at 8:40 am

Erin – these keep really nicely, so I think they’d be just fine if you made them now for thursday. I’ve definitely kept them around for 3 days and they’ve still been great. Store them in the fridge, but the the coconut flour base isn’t the type that would dry out over a few days.


21 December 6, 2013 at 4:58 am

Wow, incredible weblog layout! How long have you ever been running a
blog for? you made blogging glance easy. The overall
look of your website is magnificent, as smartly
as the content! recently posted.. Profile


22 Katarina March 4, 2014 at 7:03 am

Made these last night and they were FANTASTIC! I couldn’t find coconut flour so I made them with all-purpose and halved the eggs. I was a little worried but they turned out great. Exactly what I was craving!


23 Ashley March 23, 2014 at 9:37 am

Quick question I’m in love panang curry do you have any authentic recipes for that?? My second fav is coconut bars I’m soo makin these:)


24 Jess April 4, 2014 at 8:29 am

Hi Ashley – I hope you liked the bars! My favorite panang curry recipe is actually a soup, but it’s not your classic panang – However, panang curry is absolutely my favorite type of curry as well!


25 Debi May 2, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Could I use coconut milk in place of the sweetened condensed milk?


26 Jess May 30, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Hi Debi – I’m quite late to reply to this comment, but I did want to let you know that, unfortunately, you probably will not have luck with coconut milk in place of the sweetened condensed. Sweetened condensed milk will caramelize in the oven, but coconut milk will likely saturate the bars. However, if you did try this – let me know how they turned out!


27 christine May 6, 2014 at 2:32 am

i made this recipe a few days ago and everybody loved them!
i substituted 1/2 of the brown sugar with coconut palm sugar, and the coconut flour with Pamela’s GF baking flour, since I had that on hand. I also used several types of chocolate chips–some semisweet, some dark.
Turned out very yummy! Thanks so much for sharing!! :)


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: