Creamy Chocolate Coconut Layer Bars

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


    • says

      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!

    • says

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

    • says

      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!

    • says

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

  1. says

    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

    • says

      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!?

  2. says

    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

    • says

      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.

  3. Katarina says

    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!

  4. Ashley says

    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:)

    • says

      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!

  5. christine says

    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!! :)

    • says

      Hi Jennifer, I’ve never tried this substitution, but I suspect it will work. I’d use the same measurements, since there are a few other elements that give this sweetness. Let me know how they turn out!


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