Brandi Chang’s Magic-Cali Bars are one of those recipes we never knew we needed, then instantly can’t live without. A blend of all the good stuff, from almond butter to coconut flakes, these layered bars take quite a few ingredients but are simple to construct once you have everything on hand. By shopping for all these ingredients you’ll have all the basics on hand for just about every healthy dessert recipe we love — including these banana bread brownies!
This is a healthy adaptation of an old-fashioned favorite. I just love the idea of a layered cookie bar, and this recipe from my first cookbook, Family Style uses clean ingredient swaps like dates, almonds, and maple syrup. They are a total crowd pleaser — the perfect potluck contribution. Packed with layers of flavor and so good you’ll swear they’re magic.
Makes about 15 cookie bars
For the Crust
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
3 whole medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
Pinch of sea salt
For the Date Caramel
2 whole medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon water
4 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
For the Layers
1/2 cup raw pecans, chopped
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter, melted
1 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
To make the crust: In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, dates, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil and salt. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and press down firmly. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
To make the date caramel: Meanwhile, blend the dates, water, almond butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until smooth.
To make the layers: Begin layering by pouring the date caramel mixture onto the crust. Gently spread into an even layer. Layer on the chopped pecans, then the melted peanut butter, coconut flakes and chocolate chips.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool. Top with any leftover date caramel mixture, cut into squares and serve.