This is a very special day! Why? Today is the first time that I am featuring a dessert on the blog! Seriously guys, this is big news. I’m in full on happy dance mode over these Grapefruit Coconut Bars! These no-bake bars are a yummy mix of all things tropical and are (gasp!) kind of healthy for you! Plus, they are very easy to make!
I know the past two recipes on the blog have featured some ingredients that I dislike (ahem, coffee), but let me be clear — I LOVE dessert! Chocolate has never done wrong in my mind and cheesecake is a gift from the heavens. But desserts often get a bad reputation for being overly sweet and full of calories. I don’t know about you, but my idea of a great desert is something that satisfies my sweet tooth without making me feel guilty after I eat it. This usually means that I am drawn to desserts that are made from fresh fruits and real ingredients. Not only are these kinds of desserts more colorful, they are also usually pretty healthy for you! Even better, recipes made with fresh, wholesome ingredients–like these bars–are easy to make and use only a few simple ingredients.
Unsurprisingly, the Caribbean has a wide variety of delicious ingredients, all of which would make amazing desserts!
Let’s talk about how these bars are made. The base of this dessert is so simple! All I did was make a no-bake crust using oatmeal, dates, almonds, and almond butter.
Then comes the fun part! As I got to thinking about a dessert that would be satisfying and inspired by Caribbean flavors, I immediately thought about using coconut.
Coconut is one of the first ingredients you think about when you imagine the Caribbean and rightly so! Coconuts are so versatile – you can drink coconut water to stay hydrated, eat coconut “jelly” as a snack, or use the coconut meat to make coconut milk, coconut cream, or coconut oil, all of which are great ingredients in any dessert.
The first layer of these bars feature full fat coconut cream, which gives a nice richness to the dessert. You can also use coconut milk, but I strongly suggest using full fat instead of light coconut milk because the full fat coconut milk sets well and has a richer flavor (I said these bars were healthy-ish… but it’s still a dessert!). Depending on your sweet tooth, you can use sweetened coconut milk, or you can go with unsweetened coconut milk and adjust the flavor by adding your desired amount of sugar or agave.
Oh, did I forget to mention that because I used agar agar instead of gelatin and agave instead of honey, this recipe is vegan?!
You couldn’t tell these bars were vegan by looking at them right?
You sure won’t be able to tell by the way they taste either, because these bars are absolutely BOMB! Vegan or not, you’ll want to give these a try! If you don’t have agar agar or agave, just use unflavored gelatin and honey and the recipe will come out the same.
Next, for the top layer, I wanted to go with a fruit that you wouldn’t typically expect in a dessert…
Grapefruit gets a bad rep for being very tart, but that tartness is actually a perfect compliment to the creamy richness of the coconut layer. And with the addition of honey (or agave) and some more coconut milk to mellow out the tart flavor, this layer is smooth and delicious.
And there you have it — no-bake Grapefruit Coconut bars!
I could talk about these bars for days, but I still would not be able to convey just how good they are, you just have to scroll down to the recipe and give them a try for yourself 🙂 !
If you give this recipe a try, be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and tag #SweetandSorrel on Instagram!
makes 10 squares
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 6 Medjool dates, pitted (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp agave or honey
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup full fat coconut cream
- 1 tbsp agave or honey
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp agar agar
- 2 large pink grapefruits, juiced and strained (approx. 1 cup fresh juice)
- 1 lemon, juiced and strained (approx. 1/4 cup fresh juice)
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 2-4 tbsp agave or honey, depending on your desired sweetness
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp agar agar
- Combine oats and dated in a food processor and pulse until a sticky mixture forms. Add almonds, almond butter, agave (or honey), vanilla extract, and salt and pulse until mixture forms into a ball. (Note: depending on how soft your dates are, you may have to add more almond butter and agave). Press the dough into a square baking tin and store in the refrigerator.
- To prepare the coconut layer, heat coconut milk agave (or honey) cornstarch, and agar agar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let the mixture come to a low boil and stir until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat and let the mixture rest in a bowl until it comes to room temperature. Remove the baking tin from the fridge and pour the coconut layer over the crust. Return to the fridge to allow the layer to set.
- To prepare the grapefruit layer, heat fresh grapefruit juice, lemon juice, agave (or honey), cornstarch, and agar agar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the mixture begins to thicken, stir in the coconut milk and bring to a low boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Let the mixture rest until it comes to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Then pour the grapefruit layer over the coconut layer and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.
- Use a spatula to remove the bars from the tin and cut into squares. You can store the squares in the freezer and thaw before eating!
* Recipe for the grapefruit layer adapted from Yuki (@foodie.yuki)