Just because we're in the dog-days of summer doesn't mean I stop craving sweets. It does however make me reluctant to do any serious baking that would contribute to the sweltering heat. These Coconut Cream bars come together in minutes and will sate your sweet-tooth and comfort your inner chocoholic all without using the oven (if you have roasted almonds on hand).
The creamy, chewy bottom layer is made with shredded coconut and coconut cream. The dried coconut absorbs the liquid in the coconut cream, making it tender, while the cream solidifies in the refrigerator, setting this treat into a sliceable slab of deliciousness. Crowned with a layer of chocolate studded with fragrant toasted almonds, this vegan friendly dessert tastes far more decadent than its plant-based ingredients would suggest.
In case you haven’t heard of it, coconut cream is the thick "cream" that floats to the top of a can of coconut milk. It's sold either in cans or cartons, but if you can't find it, you can also just skim the thick white cream off the top of a few cans of refrigerated coconut milk. Because coconuts have some natural sweetness, I find that the thick layer of bittersweet chocolate on top provides just enough sugar for me, but if you want something sweeter you can certainly add a sweetener to the shredded coconut mixture.
As for the nuts, I like my almonds freshly roasted and pretty dark, which is why I include the roasting step, but if you want to make these truly no-bake, you can just buy roasted almonds instead.
- Prepare a 7.5-inch(19.5cm) square baking pan by lining it with parchment paper.
- Put the shredded coconut into a bowl and then add the 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of coconut cream. Stir to combine. You can also add some coconut sugar here if you like.
- Dump the coconut mixture into the prepared pan and then spread the mixture to the edges in an even layer. Put the pan in the freezer for 15 minutes to set the coconut.
- Meanwhile preheat a toaster oven to 360 degrees F (180 C), chop the almonds and place them on a baking sheet. Roast the almonds for about 10 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. Transfer the almonds to a cool surface and let them cool completely.
- When the coconut is set, add the chocolate along with 2 tablespoons of coconut cream to a double boiler (bowl set over a pot of simmering water). Stir the chocolate until it's fully melted and smooth.
- Dump the chocolate mixture over the coconut and spread evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the roasted almonds and then return to the freezer to set. Once the chocolate is set you can slice it into bars or squares and store them in the fridge (they'll fall apart if they get too warm).