There are certain flavor combos that immediately remind you of being a kid. For me, it’s Almond Joy. Ah, those little nuggets of chocolate-coconut bliss.

These days, I still crave chocolate (of course!), coconut, and almonds, but who needs all that sugar? Enter these bars, full of chocolate (in the form of raw cacao), coconut, and almonds; but devoid of refined sugar and other icky additives.

The no-bake recipe may look long, but several of the ingredients are repeated in the different layers, and it’s remarkably quick to put together (not counting some hands-off fridge time). The bars are a perfect make-ahead dessert for a party, or just a delicious item to keep in the fridge for any chocolate “emergencies.” Plus, the recipe is ideal for the hot summer months, since (with the possible exception of a few seconds in the microwave) it doesn't require any cooking.

Note: You can cut the bars pretty small. They're super-rich and decadent, so a little goes a long way.

“Almond Joy” No-Bake Bars

Yield: About 15 bars

Base:

1 cup sliced toasted almonds (about 120g)

¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (about 15g)

¼ cup raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa (20g)

1/3 cup dried dates (about 4.25 oz.), pitted

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

½ tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. salt

Middle layer:

½ cup coconut butter (about 5 oz.)

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Generous pinch of salt

Frosting:

¼ cup coconut oil

¼ cup raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder (about 20g)

3 Tbsp. maple syrup

Pinch of salt

Unsweetened coconut flakes, optional

  1. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment. Make base layer: In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until all ingredients are chopped and combined (don’t over mix). Press into an even layer in pan and refrigerate while you make middle layer.
  2. Make middle layer: If your coconut butter has a layer of oil on top, empty the jar into a large bowl and stir to recombine it. Put all but ½ cup back into the jar. Add remaining middle layer ingredients to bowl and stir until well combined. (Do not over mix.) Spread evenly over crust; cover and refrigerate while you make frosting.
  3. Make frosting: If your coconut oil is solid, place ¼ cup in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 10-second intervals just until it’s melted. Add remaining frosting ingredients (except coconut flakes) and stir until smooth. (If the other ingredients are cold and the frosting seizes when you combine them, microwave in 10-second intervals until it’s melted and smooth.) Pour over coconut layer and quickly spread. Sprinkle with coconut flakes, if desired. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  4. To slice, use parchment to lift out of pan. Run a chef’s knife under hot water and wipe dry; use hot knife to cut bars into pieces on a cutting board and serve. Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.