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Chocolate Coconut Bars (regular and Gluten Free variation)


Anyone gearing up for treats, treats, and more treats??  It’s Holiday time, remember?  There’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day……..all sorts of holidays to celebrate and make treats.  You know, in case you need a reason.


Ha Ha.


Growing up, my mom used to make Cherry Cheese Sweet Bread.  Every year.  It’s a braided danish type thing that has cherry pie filling (or any kind of fruit) and cream cheese-y filling and then a glaze and nuts on top.  She would make it for us, the neighbors, friends, or anyone walking down the street.  She spread Christmas cheer everywhere with this stuff (it’s always more fun to fatten up together, right?)  I don’t know a year she didn’t make it.  Until many of us in the family got this Celiac thing several years ago.  We haven’t found a good dough to make it just right.  Bummer.  (Because we have tried…..and it’s just not the same.)


Soooooo, no need to feel sad about that…….I just try and find substitutes.  It’s a great way to branch out.  And make yummy new things.  And find new Holiday Food traditions.


So a week or two ago…..a gave a new recipe a trial run.  Because I need to practice.  And then take practice bites and then more practice bites.  See?  I don’t go without. :)



I altered a recipe (to make it gluten free) found at Martha Stewart.  And loved it.



Beware:  It’s totally rich and totally delicious.  And you may only need 1 square of it.  (Or 3-4 if you can handle your sugar like I can.) 

But the top is covered in toasted coconut and the center is chewy and chocolatey and delicious.



And yes, even a little gluten free cookie crust to hold the bar all together.



And you can either follow Martha’s directions here and make it the original way…….or you can pick up a bag of mild Gluten Free cookies and make them my way.  (I found these at Wal-Mart.  But have seen them many places.  They’re not that great plain….but they worked perfectly for the crust.)





Chocolate Coconut Bars

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart



  • 3 cups finely ground gluten free cookies, some sort of mild cookie works best (there’s enough sugar in the rest of the recipe)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, sugar, and butter until combined. Evenly press onto bottom and about an inch up the sides of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Bake, rotating halfway through, until firm, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool, about 20 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle cooled crust evenly with pecans and chocolate. Pour condensed milk over the top, spreading to cover completely (do not let it drip over the edges). Sprinkle with coconut.
  4. Bake until coconut is toasted, 10 to 15 minutes. (Mine took a little longer to bake and really toast the coconut.)





**These taste the best (and stay together better) after they are completely cool.  They are more chewy and easier to eat.  Yum.


And if you eat more than one, don’t blame me.  They are slightly addicting.




. . . . .


If you need more gluten free ideas…….all of the recipes posted in my recipe section are either naturally gluten free or I have adapted them to be gluten free.  Hope that helps you GFers.



Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Tricia says:

    These were SO yummy and a Christmas Day crowd pleaser! Made the crust with Kirkland’s Disney Organic Animal Cookies and used fat-free sweetened condensed milk to offset the richness. They were perfect and you can eat more than one! I think pre-baking the crust is a must…no crumbling! Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. sol says:

    Mmmmmhhhh!!!!! que rico!!! Esas fotos dan ganas de comer una porción.Acá en Argentina, hacemos una receta parecida. Entre las capas de masa y el coco, colocamos una capa de dulce de leche -es un dulce típico que se hace con leche y azúcar-. Disfruta de la torta.

  3. Michal says:

    Looks good! But can we have the cheese danish bread recipe also? (for those of us who CAN eat it!)

  4. nicolette @ momnivore's dilemma says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time, and didn’t realize you are GF as well!

    I’ve found that working with nut flours make amazing crust. Do you read the GF bloggers Elana’s Pantry or the Spunky Coconut? They’ve saved me from recipe disasters over the past 2 years…

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Chelsea says:

    Your post today made my DAY! I saw your post and automatically scrolled past it because it was a baked treat … until I saw the GF cookies and it made me double take and return to the top. It is a habit to pass up baked goods on blogs now that my little boy has Celiac. I am so excited to try these. They look just like my Mom’s Hello Dolly bars. I am so excited to have a tasty substitute! Merry Christmas!

  6. Narelle says:

    OK, I would totally love to see the recipe for the cherry cheese sweet bread!!! It sounds awesome!

  7. gilda says:

    These are my favs. and how you made them….um, yay!!! I cannot wait to make some for my very self.

  8. Kathleen says:

    I am totally trying these! They look fabulous.

  9. Blythe says:

    Thanks for the gluten free version,half my siglings eat gluten free includeing myself.
    They look SO yummy!

  10. Jenny says:

    If you LOVE those, you HAVE to try these. The Merry Million Dollar Peppermint Bars are, as my friend said, “Its like Christmas Eve in your mouth!” (hope the address works)

  11. abigail says:

    thanks for posting a gf recipe!! we will be making these today!

  12. Molly says:

    Wonderful! I love these bars, but my mom has celiac and the desserts she can have aren’t as fun. I’ll have to make this for Christmas so she can enjoy more festivities and goodies! Yay! Thanks for posting. Do you have other gluten-free recipes buried in here, too?

  13. Emily says:

    Thats the same recipe from the Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk cook book. Minus your GF alterations of course! But yes they are yummy, so is Everything else in that book :D i stole my mom’s copy <> she didn’t hear me say that! Mmmm sugar, must have another cookie

  14. Jil says:

    I’ve read your blog for quite some time now and didn’t know you had Celiac. I’ve had it for 4 years and must say it’s always nice to find a good recipe like this. Thanks for posting it.

  15. Tricia says:

    Yum! I’ve made a similar recipe for my husband, I might have to try your gf version. I probably would have tried a corn chex crust, but I’m sure that the arrowroot cookies worked much better. Thanks!

  16. Emily says:

    I love these! Thanks for sharing a gluten free version. :)

  17. EricSabin says:

    Ok Ashley when can I come over and get some of these! they look amazing!

  18. Sabrina Jackson says:

    These look SO good! I can’t wait to make these

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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