It is inevitable, we all have that one treat that we absolutely adore but just can't justify the sugar. For me, this week it was a Mounds Bar! Sweet, shredded coconut draped in dark chocolate was exactly what I craved to help get me through a particularly tough week. They are one of my all-time favorites, but all the added sugar, chemicals and whatever else you may find inside mainstream candy just isn't going to cut it. I want all the coconut and chocolatey goodness, but we can do better!
So, I took a few minutes to do some research and quickly found out, coconut bars are incredibly easy to make, and can easily be made vegan if you want! With only a handful of ingredients and about 10 minutes you can whip up a tasty afternoon snack!
WARNING - this recipe is quite the fat bomb, exactly how it should be! Both the coconut and chocolate have coconut oil mixed in, but that coconut oil is a big part of the magic so don't cut back otherwise your bars may fall apart. Also, I find that a good bit of fat can lift me up in the afternoon when a little extra energy is required.
2 C shredded unsweetened coconut
1/3 C + 1 Tbs coconut oil
1/3 C coconut milk
1-2 Tbs honey - more or less if you like sweeter treat
Zest of one lime
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract - a nice addition but not necessary
1/2 - 1 C dark or milk chocolate chips, or finely chopped
Classic Floral Garnishing Salt to finish
Get excited - no baking! The only tools you need are a zester and a microwave.
Melt 1/3 C coconut oil and honey in a microwave safe bowl - I would suggest picking one that will fit all of your ingredients. Microwave until the oil and honey become a liquid, add extract, zest and mix well.
Before the oil mixture begins to cool, add the shredded coconut and mix well once more. It will be dry and crumbly at this point. Once the coconut is fully integrated, slowly start adding the coconut milk and mix until slightly sticky. You may need more or less coconut milk - you are looking for enough moisture to hydrate the coconut, but not so much that it turns into a gooey mess. The mixture should come together into a mass but still hold its shape.
Press into an 8"x8" pan creating a nice even layer. You may use a smaller pan if you want a thicker bar. Then place in the fridge or freezer to set.
While the coconut mixture is chilling, start on the chocolate by adding it to a second microwave safe bowl and heating slowly in 15 second increments, mixing between until the chocolate is fully melted. Once fully melted, add the reserved 1 Tbs of coconut oil and mix into the chocolate. Pour a thin, even layer of chocolate over the chilled coconut bars. I found it necessary to spread the chocolate around the top as it will start to set quickly. Just as the chocolate begins to set, sprinkle the top with Classic Floral Garnishing Salt for the perfect blend of salty and sweet. The sprinkle of flakey sea salt elevates the flavor and appearance, it immediately takes it from basic to gourmet. It is that little extra touch that makes it a truly special treat.
If you have the time, I'd recommend chilling them in the fridge overnight, allowing the coconut to hydrate and the chocolate to fully harden before removing from the glass dish and cutting into 16 squares. Otherwise, wait at least a few hours for the flavors to come together. However, if you are feeling impatient go ahead and dig in as soon as the chocolate is set!
TIP - If you're finding it hard to free your bars from the dish, soak the dish in about an inch of warm water. 30 seconds is usually enough time for the bars to melt and come out more easily.
These bars will store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months, but we're sure they won't last that long!
It really is that easy to make these delightful little treats, perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up or a post-dinner dessert. Once you've mastered these, play with the flavors by swapping these ingredients for other zests and extracts - add slivered almonds to the top for a homemade Almond Joy!