Maui Wowee Cookie Bars with Coconut & Chocolate Chips

Gluten free coconut chocolate chip cookie bars
Gluten-free cookie bars with coconut and chocolate.

Ah. Savor this Maui Wowee goodness- a delicious coconut chocolate chip cookie bar recipe. But first, a little back story. I remember the first gluten-free cookie I ever ate. I was a week into this new gluten-free lifestyle, knowing- by my body's dramatic response to giving up gluten- I was on the right track. I was feeling hopeful, deprived, relieved, angry and curious all at once.

So, Dear Reader, I took my first bite.

The store-bought cookie tasted like dog biscuit dust. Like a thawed frozen pizza box whizzed in a Cuisinart. Like a stale corner crumble from last year's abandoned Christmas cookie tin from your aunt that can't cook and pontificates about politics over instant coffee, Sara Lee pound cake and her gently crushed pack of Virginia Slims.

My husband and sons felt sorry for me (though they masked it with humor, tossing cookies out the back door into the night like so many flying hockey pucks). The worst of it? They felt powerless to help.

That's when I knew.

If I was going to commit to this thing- this whole wacky, prickly, gluten-free thing- and if I was going to regain my health and thrive again and more importantly, enjoy eating and great food again (and not live on rice cakes and peanut butter), I was going to have to buckle down and get my skinny tuchus into the newly cleaned out de-glutenized kitchen.

I was going to have to take control of this thing.

And experiment. After all, dessert is too important to settle for something flavorless, without WOW, without joy. So why not re-learn to bake?

And thus began the ordering of every alternative flour and baking mix I could find. Followed by dumping dozens of sunken breads, crumbly cakes and gummy pie crusts into the garbage pail. I'm the first to admit it. I cried. More than once. And my taste buds? My taste buds grew seriously depressed.

The good news is, I'm stubborn. And tenacious. And willing to make a fool of myself (maybe it's the whole Jungian-Zen letting go of ego thing). So I kept on trying. And tossing.

And in time, during the steep learning curve of that first gluten-free year I discovered some decent gluten-free mixes (that benefited from a little doctoring) and I developed a handful of dessert recipes based on the alternative flours I preferred.

I began a love affair with dark chocolate, flaked coconut and organic golden brown sugar because I discovered that these magical ingredients enhanced most gluten-free baking recipes.

One of the few pleasant surprises I discovered that first year was a versatile mix- called Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix- and I began using it as my general all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. Using Pamela's mix I made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars, Summer Blueberry Crisp, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars that tasted like Toll House. And I loved the simplicity and ease of having a single all purpose flour mix (instead of thirteen bags of flours shoved into my refrigerated vegetable bin).

So, Darling. Here's the latest gluten-free baking experiment. It has quickly become my number one favorite sweet. And guess what?

No cardboard texture or hockey pucks in sight.

Maui Wowee Bars Recipe with Coconut and Chocolate Chips

Originally published August 2006.

Warm from the oven these bars are soft and fall-apart tender melt-in-your-mouth gooey goodness. Cut, wrapped and chilled, they become slightly chewy on the inside, moist and fabulous. Kinda like blondie meets Almond Joy.

Mix in a mixing bowl by hand, with a wooden spoon, until moistened:


1 1/3 cup Pamela's Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix- see below for more options
1/2 heaping cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 heaping cup organic light brown sugar
2 large free-range organic eggs
1/2 cup light olive oil or grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract

Add in:

1/2 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 heaping cup white chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350ºF (if you live above 5,000 feet, set your oven temp to 375ºF).

Using a rubber or silicone spatula, spread the batter evenly into a lightly oiled 8x8-inch baking pan. Add extra chips to the top and lightly press into the batter.

Bake on a center rack until the bars are set and golden brown - about 21 to 25 minutes, depending upon your oven and altitude - and do not over-bake. Allow the bars to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

Makes nine delectable bars.


If you do not have Pamela's baking mix try your favorite all purpose leavened gluten-free baking and pancake mix; or substitute your own gluten-free flour blend and add 1 teaspoon of baking powder, a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum for each cup of gluten-free flour.

Enjoy sugary treats in moderation. Gluten-Free Goddess advises consuming no more than 2 tablespoons of sugar a day.



the fanny said...

These look so good, I can't wait to go home and try them!

I like to use Bob's Red Mill A/P mix too - I use it in banana bread, and you'd swear it wasn't g/f!

Thanks for all the great recipes!

Heather said...

These look wonderful and so quick and easy; if they're anything like your brownies, I can't wait. I love your site. It makes me wish I had more time and inclination to cook!
I'm glad you have started to get yourself so nicely settled; what a beautiful area!

Brendon said...

This looks really good. I can't wait for the weather here to cool down enough to start baking. (Makes no sense to cool and heat the house at the same time.) I'm curious: do you think using a Bob's Red Mill mix would be not as good? Which Bob's mix do you like best? Or, is the Pamela's so much better that it's worth hunting for? Sorry to ask so many questions, but if anyone knows it's you. Thanks again for such a great recipe.

sher said...

WOWEE ZOWEE! I'll take a whole tray of those please!

Lorraine's Blog said...

So glad to see you're back! Can you tell me where you find your GF Vanilla extract?
Thank you!

SusanV said...

Life is just not fair: You can eat things like this and still have a skinny tuchus? Remind me why I like you! ;-)

They look mouthwatering. They ARE mouthwatering because my mouth is watering. Damn.

karina said...

Hey, the fanny ~

They're the best! And wicked easy.

Hi Heather ~

Yup; they're as good as the brownies. And thank you. We are loving it here.

Brendon! Long time no see! Great to hear from you. Hope you've had a fun summer. I have not tried Bob's mix - if I remember correctly, there's a flour in it that doesn't agree with me [is it soy? or bean? I cannot handle legume flours].

Pamela's has almond meal in it [which I love] and her flours all agree with me.

It's a matter of taste buds, and tummy preferences. If you [and the fanny] try this recipe with a Bob's mix, please post back and let us know how they turned out.

Hey Sher!

You caught my reference! Yay. [Frank Zappa got me thru the perils of high school.] ;-)

Hi Lorraine!

Trader Joe's has a good one; and Gluten Free Pantry; I use Frontier Organic [usually available at health food stores].

Hola, Susan!

You like me because I'm so sweet and lovable. Right? ;-) [I am careful with calories; but I love my treats, and don't believe in skimping on flavor; I just don't eat the whole pan. At least not in one day.]

Gaile said...

OOO, those look awesome! I can't wait to try them - thanks for another fabulous GF recipe! I too love the pamela's mixes - their brownies are seriously good, and the pancakes make me happy on weekends I'm feeling down. :-)

BNA said... we have the same aunt??


HappySlob said...

Just found your blog and these bars in particular had me drooling! :) Thanks for such a great resource!


karina said...

Hi Gaile!

Awesome, you betcha. ;-) And you're right. Pamela's makes the best GF pancakes. I like to make one huge pan-sized griddle cake; and toss in some blueberries...or chocolate chips!

bna ~ Bubbie, we might. ;-)

Christina ~ Welcome!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your recipes. I recently have been eating "gluten-free" and it has been very difficult finding foods that taste good. But thanks to your site, I now have some yummy recipes to try!!

GrewUpRural said...

These look absolutely delicious. These would definitely cure my sweet tooth.

I have been gluten free for over two months now. Your recipies are quick, easy, and tasty, which is great for my 60+ hour work week. I can't wait to try these bars. Thank you so much!

reginae said...

I made these today, using a combo of brown and white rice flour in place of the Pamela's . . . what a DELICIOUS recipe!

Thanks so much!

karina said...

Anon ~ Thanks! Great! Glad you found my blog. Be well.

GrewUpRural ~ Working 60 hours a week is tough! You deserve some treats.

Reginae ~ Yay! It's such a simple recipe - I'm glad it works with a white/brown rice flour combo, too. Thanks for sharing!

Helene said...

I love Pamela's mixes too. I am drooling at the picture, can imagine how good they must be. They are on my list for this weekend. Thank you for sharing so many great recipes.

Peggy said...

Thank you so much for posting that. Before I was diagnosed, I was known among my friends for all the different --and yummy-- cookies I baked for the holidays. You've given me the inspiration to keep trying to replicate my old recipes!

karina said...

Hi Helene!

Thanks so much!

Pamela's has become my basic all-purpose flour. I like that it has almond meal in it.

Hi Peggy!

Absolutely - you can still use your tried and true recipes. I'm finding almost every recipe works with Pamela's mix; and any basic GF flour mix can work as a general substitute for your recipes, I think; just add some xanthan or guar gum - not much - and make sure the recipe has plenty of sugar [I happen to think golden brown sugar gives GF baking more moistness] and enough fat [skimping on GF recipes results in pretty mediocre baking, in my opinion; I say, if you're going to make a gluten free treat - then make it a real treat!].

Hope it's cooling down a bit in Texas!

Christan = ) said...

These are now next on my list of goodies!! I will have to do some hunting for some of those white chocolate chips though!!
I also have learned that taking a 'real' recipe and substituting your favorite flour mix usually works really well and almost always tastes better than the commercial GF foods!!
I also enjoy the almond flour with the brown sugar mix. And I have you to thank for that!

karina said...

Christan ~

They're back on our to-bake list, too. We ate every single one already! Ack!

Anonymous said...

These ROCK!!
Thanks for the awesome recipe. I love how simple they are and how fast my gluten eating friends devoured them.
We(my celiac daughters and I) missed you and are happy you have settled in to your new home and back blogging.
Keep up the yummy recipes and beautiful photos.

karina said...

Hi Lisa!

That's so cool! [Don't you love it when gluten-eating folks devour a GF treat?]

Thanks for the kind words. I missed you all, too. Glad to be back!


Amy said...

These bars were to DIE FOR. They are, by far, one of the best things I've ever tasted, gluten free or otherwise.

k a r i n a said...

Wowee, Amy! Thanks so much for stopping back to post.

[I'm making another batch this weekend.] ;-)

kara said...

Wow, karina! This the first recipe of yours I've made. They're currently sitting, cooling, filling my apartment with the most yummy aromas, and I can hardly wait to cut into them.
I want to let you know how much I've appreciated your site over the last few weeks. I'm new to the GF life, and you've helped me keep up complete hope for my love of cooking and baking!

Karina said...

Thanks, Kara! You are very sweet. Enjoy! (And come back often!)


Sarah Makepeace said...

I finally decided to actually try and bake some of your delicious treats the other day. I was a little scared because I seriously have tried way to many "let down" gluten free treats. But wow, these are amazing. I have been asked to make them again because they were so good. Thank you so much for the great recipe. I am trying a few other things now that I know that gluten-free treats can be amazing again.

Amanda on Maui said...

Your title made me think of these:

They're chocolate bars here in Hawaii and they're some of the best chocolate I've ever had in my entire life.

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