Karina's Nirvana Layer Bars- Chocolate & Coconut Bliss

Karina's Amazing Nirvana Bars #glutenfree

Divine Gluten-Free Layer Bars

This recipe is a family favorite- my chocolate-coconut cookie bar recipe. Simple to make. Sweet and gooey and bliss inducing. And most important? You can offer them at any gathering without a gluten-free apology. (Would that be, Don't ask, don't tell?)

Bummed about the dairy in it? My son Alex has created his own casein-free version using condensed coconut milk. See our Dairy-Free Nirvana Bars recipe here.

Karina's Nirvana Layer Bars Recipe

Recipe posted December 2007.

For son Alex's last night home I made a batch of these wonderfully rich and decadent bars. Truthfully, they're more like candy than cookie. Gooey and divine, they made the men in the house simply go, "Ahhhhhhhh." "Nirvana?" I asked. "You betcha," was the lip-smacking reply.


1/2 cup butter or vegan buttery stick, such as Earth Balance
1 1/2 cups gluten-free chocolate cookies, processed into crumbs
1 cup (heaping) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chopped roasted almonds (I used salted because I like a sweet and salt combo)
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk


Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Place the butter in a 9x13-inch baking pan and set it in the oven until the butter is melted. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly.

Sprinkle the cookie crumbs in the buttered pan and toss them to coat; press them into a layer. Pour the condensed milk in the pan. Add a layer of chocolate chips, then a layer of coconut, then almonds. Using the back of a spatula, press the mixture firmly into the pan.

I usually sprinkle a few extra chips on the top, and gently press them in. Why not?

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 to 25 minutes, until set.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Chill before cutting.

Makes 15 to 20 bars.

I usually mix it up and cut some larger, some smaller. And I always cut up a couple of "tiny bites" to wrap and freeze for a small, quick treat - when I crave something sweet, but don't need much.

I used Pamela's gluten-free wheat-free chocolate cookies because I have to be gluten-free, but any cookie will work in this simple recipe.

See our dairy-free version here.

xox Karina


healthyfishies said...

These sound Absolutely Divine!! These will certainly satisfy my sweet tooth ! I am off to the grocer right now ;) ~ Thanks Karina!!

Tina said...

It is so strange you had this recipe on here today because yesterday I replied to you and it came back undeliverable, but what I sent you was a recipe for Cashew Whipped Cream that didn't quite take but tasted just like condensed milk, and I wrote that I was going to make these things called Conglomorates, which you call Nivanah bars! Wow! I will still send you the recipe in case you want to try it in these bars sometime:

Cashew Whipped Cream
Blend 1 c raw cashwes or cashew pieces in a blender to a fine power
Add 1/2 c water* and blend to form a thick cream
Slowly add to running blender 1 c sunflower oil (approximately, add additional until desired density is reached)
Blend in 4 Tablespoons maple syrup , 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of salt .
*May add more water if necessary, it calls for 1 c water but it didn't work out so I figure you can thin it out later if necessary
Chill and serve.

Love it!

Marla said...

Funny, I just made the Nirvana bars the day before yesterday after finding the recipe on your site. They are awesome! I'm trying to keep my non-GF boyfriend out of 'em, but he keeps eating all my stuff I make for myself! I have also made the banana coconut muffins, the banana choc-chip scones and the Mauiwowee bars. Ohm I'm on vacation....! And my boyfriend keeps eating my food!! Have a great holiday from a fan in No Cal.

Kalliopi said...

wow, I used to make a version of these as a kid for school bake sales. Same idea, but instead of almonds and choc. chips, we did pecans and a combo of butterscotch chips and choc. chips. We also used a graham cracker crust. Otherwise it looks the exact same. I'd forgotten about this recipe. Thanks for the reminder!

healthyfishies said...

I made the Nirvana Bars!! OMGosh these are sooo oooey-gooey Good!
I believe I have a new favorite :) Thank you so much for adding a little sweetness to my life Karina.

Ami said...

mmmm I can't wait to try these.

Karina said...

Hey Healthyfishies!

They're fun- you can use different cookies for different flavored crusts. ;)

Hi Tina! Cool. Thanks for sharing your cashew cream recipe with our readers. :)

Marla! I hear ya! Next time, double-batch it. ;)

Hola Kalliopi- Yes- exactly, That was my inspiration. try different cookies for variations with different nuts, too.

You're back already, Healthyfishies! Yay. You are so welcome. Sweetness = good. ;)

Hiya Ami! :)


Arisce said...

I tried to get to the dairy free ones, but it's invited readers only. :( could you convince him to email me the recipe?

Karina Allrich said...

Alex uses sweetened condensed coconut milk in my recipe.

Here is Alex's recipe for the milk sub...

Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk:

3 cups coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup organic sugar or agave

Stir ingredients together in a sauce pan and heat gently; cook slowly over low to almost medium heat, stirring constantly, until the volume is reduced to about 1 cup.

Add some vanilla extract to taste, if you like; and a pinch of sea salt, if desired.

Cool the condensed milk and refrigerate if not using right away.

For Evaporated Coconut or Non-Dairy Milk:

As above, but omit the sugar and pour the milk into a saucepan; cook gently over low to medium heat, stirring until the coconut milk is thickened and reduced to 1 & 1/2 cups. Cool. Refrigerate if not using right away.



Phoenix West Valley Tourism said...

So you're adding sweetener (sugar) to the sweetened condensed milk but not to the Evaporated milk that is unsweetened? There's also an asterisk next to gluten free chocolate cookie processed into crumbs...?

These look AMAZING I'm vegan too so I'll have to see if the cookies have dairy or eggs, but I really want to make these!

Meagan said...

These look great!

Sarah said...


This sounds very similar to my family's recipe for 7-layer (and 7 ingredient) bars. We use butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, condensed milk, and coconut. Is there a good GF graham cracker substitute that you know of? If so I'd be happy to send you our recipe with this substitution!


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