Dark Chocolate Walnut Bliss Bars (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Spunky Coconut Easter Holiday, Real Food Weekly, and Sugar-Free Sundays.

Dark Chocolate Walnut Bliss Bars. Sorry, just had to say that again in case you weren’t paying attention. Are you with me now? I know I needed an afternoon wake-up myself. These Dark Chocolate Walnut Bliss Bars will help with that!

On the back of the bag of Diamond brand walnuts is a recipe for Walnut Toffee Bars. I’ve thought about adapting that recipe to gluten free for quite some time. When Linda (The Gluten-Free Homemaker) shared her challenge for this month, Create a Dessert Bar, I thought of that recipe again. Then I thought of several other possible bar options. Fruit Pizza Bars using this recipe from Heather as my starting point. Orange Olive Oil bars using this recipe from Zoe perhaps. Chess Bars or Lemon Chess Bars, both old gluten-full recipes that I have yet to make gluten free, and ones I’d want to make dairy free as well. I think there were a few more possibilities, too. Yep, that’s how my mind works some days. But this morning, I came back to these bars. Yes, this morning before work, I had to make these bars. I wanted to have the recipe finished so I could include them in Linda’s weekly roundup, Gluten-Free Wednesdays. I am also including these bars in The Spunky Coconut Easter Holiday event. Read more here and check out Kelly’s Mock Peanut Butter Cups here.

Baking before work in the morning can actually be a breeze when one is using a favorite, well-loved recipe. You know one for which you already have the ingredients memorized. My Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies are a good example. I can make those and have them out of the oven in 15 minutes. They cool for 10 more minutes while I’m in the shower and I’m good to go. If I want to make them ultra special for a work luncheon or to give a tin full to a friend, I grab a jar of Nutella (or perhaps homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread one day) on the way out the door. I can spread the heavenly filling between the cookies in just a few minutes on a break. Other people take smoke breaks and make runs to the bank on their breaks, I grab a butter knife and make sandwich cookies … what can I say? But I digress …

This morning I wanted to create a gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free walnut toffee bar using Diamond’s recipe as my inspiration. I needed a crust. I wanted to make it a bit healthier so I used a combination of my usual gluten-free flour mix and coconut flour. Then I added in coconut oil, coconut sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, and sea salt. After I baked the crust, I melted some unsweetened Scharffenberger dark chocolate (99% cacao) (leftover BlogHer Food swag from last year—free! and still good) with coconut oil using a double boiler. When all was melted, I added a small amount of coconut sugar and an even smaller amount of our bees’ honey. Then I mixed in more chopped walnuts. I poured this mixture over the crust.

Now here’s where the “before work” factor comes into play. If I’d had plenty of time, I might have just let the chocolate walnut topping set up on its own, although I’m not sure that would have happened with this recipe. Fortunately, I didn’t have time, so I popped the bars in the freezer (while I took the dog outside, fed the cat, fed the fish, put a load of clothes in the dryer … you get the picture). About 20 minutes later, I grabbed the pan from the freezer and headed to work. The resulting cold dark chocolate walnut toffee-style bars are blissful; there’s no doubt about it. Now these bars are not very sweet. To me, they don’t need to be. Nothing messes up good dark chocolate more than too much sweetness. I loved these bars and so did most of my co-workers, but one friend of mine confessed that she wished for more of the emphasis on sweet versus bittersweet. So be sure to taste your chocolate mixture to see if you want to add additional sweetener before pouring it over your bottom layer. If you would like the mixture—and your bars—to be sweeter, I recommend adding more coconut sugar versus adding more honey (the coconut sugar will dissolve and not add that much additional liquid like the honey will). Note that these bars will need to be kept in the refrigerator or otherwise the chocolate topping will melt. Trust me … it won’t be an issue as they are so incredibly good cold. There will be a little bit of chocolate melting action on your hands when you eat them. You can either lick your fingers (gasp!) or file your complaints in that rectangular file “cabinet” in the corner of my kitchen. ;-0 But please leave your positive feedback in comments below. Follow your bliss!

Dark Chocolate Walnut Bliss Bars (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)
 
Ingredients
Bottom Layer/Crust
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, liquefied (or non-dairy butter, melted)
  • ⅓ cup coconut (or palm) sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp gluten-free vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup gluten-free flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped somewhat fine
Chocolate/Top Layer
  • 4 ounces, unsweetened gluten-free, dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil (liquefied or not, will melt when following recipe)
  • ¼ cup coconut (or palm) sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped medium (strain to remove particles; save for incorporating into a smoothie or future baking)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8 x 8 baking pan.
  2. For bottom layer/crust, in medium-sized bowl, mix coconut oil, coconut sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Add in gluten-free flour mix*, coconut flour, and sea salt. Mix until mixture forms a ball. Mix in walnuts.
  3. Spread into pan using a silicon spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes. Bottom layer/crust should be golden brown when done.
  4. Towards the end of the baking time for the bottom layer, start preparing chocolate mixture that will be your top layer. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in pan using double boiler method. Stir continually to ensure chocolate doesn’t burn. Remove from heat when all chocolate is melted. Stir in coconut sugar, honey, and walnuts. Taste. If overly bitter to you, add slightly more coconut sugar and stir well.
  5. Remove pan from oven. Let sit for a moment if you are still preparing chocolate mixture for top layer.
  6. Pour chocolate mixture over bottom crust. Place pan in freezer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  7. Cut into squares with sharp knife or metal spatula. Serve immediately. Return remaining bars to the refrigerator after serving.
Notes
The gluten-free flour mix I make consists of three parts Asian white rice flour (much more finely ground than typical white rice flour) and two parts cornstarch. I make 5 lbs of this mix at a time. I use three 1-lb bags of Asian white rice flour and two 1-lb boxes of Argo cornstarch. Mix well, but gently in a very large bowl and then transfer to airtight storage containers (like glass jars). I realize this gluten-free flour mix is nutritionally not the best, but I have issues with many of the healthier options like buckwheat, sorghum, etc. and I usually use small amounts of this flour mix and not that often. But, feel free to try your favorite gluten-free flour mix. FYI—If you’re not gluten free (yet; most people remain undiagnosed), you can substitute your favorite all-purpose flour. Instead of unsweetened chocolate, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and honey for the chocolate mixture/top layer, you may use one cup of gluten-free, dairy-free semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips. Just be sure to get ones that are also refined sugar free, if you need that requirement. Follow directions as shown from that point on. If bars have been in the refrigerator, let warm to room temperature a bit before serving so they will soften. No broken teeth, please.

 

Shirley
Not just gf, but gfe!

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Comments

52 Responses to “Dark Chocolate Walnut Bliss Bars (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)”

  1. Debbie on April 13th, 2011 5:17 pm

    Shirley, I can just taste these!

    • Shirley on April 13th, 2011 8:14 pm

      Hey Debbie–Thanks! That’s quite a compliment. I do love these and so does Mr. GFE. ;-) Hope you will to if you try them!

      Hugs,
      Shirley

  2. Kim on April 13th, 2011 7:02 pm

    You had me at dark chocolate! I love my chocolate cold, so this is really calling my name! Maybe I’ll make them this weekend!

    • Shirley on April 13th, 2011 8:15 pm

      Hi Kim–Sounds like you will LOVE these! Be sure to taste the chocolate mixture before you pour it over the crust. Just in case you’d like more sweetness. ;-)

      xo,
      Shirley

  3. Ricki on April 13th, 2011 7:05 pm

    They definitely sound blissful! And wow, I’m amazed at how much you can get done before work–I can barely manage a shower and getting dressed. ;) (Loved your line about spreading chocolate between cookies while others go on a smoke break. . . you are just SO FUNNY!). I may just have to find a way to make these bars so I can eat them, too. (But sorry to tell you, 70% chocolate is not unsweetened. Only 100% cacao is unsweetened. . . the 70% means “includes sugar in that other 30%”);)

    • Shirley on April 13th, 2011 8:21 pm

      Hi Ricki–Thanks! I probably don’t get to work as early as you do and I get up early with Mr. GFE, so I literally have a few hours in the morning. It would be better if I’d get to work earlier, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. LOL Well, after our extensive Twitter conversation this evening, now you know that I wrote the wrong info in the post because I was looking at the wrong package of ScharffenBergen, not the one I actually used. The unsweetened chocolate I used was 99% cacao, just cacao beans and vanilla extract for this ScharffenBerger chocolate. :-) So all is good! Thanks for keeping straight! Enjoy, dear, if you make a version of these.

      Hugs,
      Shirley

  4. Lauren @ As Good As Gluten on April 13th, 2011 7:45 pm

    These look delectable!!

    • Shirley on April 13th, 2011 9:03 pm

      Hi Lauren–Thanks! It’s so good to see you again. :-)

      Shirley

  5. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) on April 13th, 2011 10:36 pm

    This looks delicious! I love making bar treats. They are just so much easier than cookies. My boys would flip over these!

    • Shirley on April 14th, 2011 10:57 pm

      Hi Sarena–Thank you, dear! I admit I have a fondness for cookies, too, but these bars were so easy and turned out outstanding. Honestly, I’m still blown away by them. Be sure to test the chocolate mixture for sweetness if your boys have a sweet tooth. ;-)

      Shirley

  6. Zoe on April 13th, 2011 10:49 pm

    Hey Shirley, your dessert bars look great! Linda’s challenge passed right by me, thanks for the heads up so to speak. ;)

    • Shirley on April 14th, 2011 10:59 pm

      Hi Zoe–Thanks! You still have time for Linda’s challenge. :-) As she advised, she’s looking for dessert bars, not snack bars. I was heading down the granola bar path until she set me straight. ;-)

      Shirley

  7. Megan @ MAID in AK on April 14th, 2011 12:51 am

    Oh these look super yummy, Shirley!

    • Shirley on April 14th, 2011 10:59 pm

      Hi Megan–Thanks so much! I was pretty pleased … blissful, in fact. ;-)

      Shirley

  8. Sea on April 14th, 2011 1:01 am

    These sound so delightful. Yum! I bet pecan would be good in this recipe, too. I love walnuts for snacking but somehow not as much in baked goods.

    Glad to see you share this in Kelly’s event!

    -Sea

    • Shirley on April 14th, 2011 11:04 pm

      Hi Sea–I’m a huge pecan lover myself. Two things kept me from using pecans in this recipe … first, my inspiration was a walnut-besed recipe, and second, I was out of pecans! Usually I keep a bag in my car and in my lunch bag. I keep walnuts, too, but the pecans always disappear faster than the walnuts. ;-) I don’t necessarily like walnuts in traditonal baked goods, but there’s something about the chocolate and the coldness of these bars making the walnuts work so well. I can’t explain it really.

      I’ve already seen several recipes for Kelly’s event; every one looks fantastic! :-)

      xo,
      Shirley

  9. Nicole@GFonaShoestring on April 14th, 2011 8:19 am

    Hi, Shirley,
    I’m amazed that you are able to come up with something that looks like that and can almost pass as ‘good for you’ (at least in my book!).
    I wake up every morning around 5:30 am, sneak downstairs like a criminal so as to avoid waking up the house, and bake and recipe test. I actually find it makes the day go more smoothly. Go figure!
    Warm regards,
    Nicole

    • Shirley on April 14th, 2011 11:11 pm

      Hi Nicole!–Sometimes the stars (or ingredients) align and the results amaze. Most of the ingredients I used in this recipe are ones that often come together for success as well as healthier results. I like that! :-)

      Oh, you’re a kindred spirit! I do like baking in the morning, especially when it’s cold weather and the oven helps warm the house. :-) We get up at 5:20 am (and were getting up at 5:00 am for several weeks when Mr. GFE had to be at work earlier) and hubby is gone in about 30 minutes, so then I’m home alone baking and doing tons of other stuff. I agree; I think it all can set the tone for the day!

      Best,
      Shirley

  10. Alta on April 14th, 2011 3:52 pm

    Oh Shirley, I’m gonna have to back away slowly out of your blog, before these things haunt me. Okay, too late. Wow they look good.

    • Shirley on April 14th, 2011 11:25 pm

      Alta–You are funny! LOL But, I do know what you mean … taste one of these babies and you’d really be a goner. This is definitely a new favorite recipe in our house! :-)

      Shirley

  11. AndreAnna on April 14th, 2011 3:57 pm

    Holy smokes!! I need to make this, like, yesterday! Because then they’d be in my belleh right now!

    • Shirley on April 14th, 2011 11:13 pm

      LOL, AndreAnna, I think these would make your “belleh” very happy! Let me know if you try them. :-)

      Thanks!
      Shirley

  12. Debi on April 14th, 2011 9:20 pm

    So awesome, Shirley. I can’t wait to try these out. Maybe a road trip treat in 2 weeks. ;)

    • Shirley on April 14th, 2011 11:14 pm

      Debi-Now that would be sweet! Beware of melty chocolate and messy hands, but a cooler could help the situation. ;-) Two weeks from today—wow! :-)

      Shirley

  13. Maggie on April 14th, 2011 9:23 pm

    Ricki is right! You are so funny Shirley. I loved that line too. And what a great idea – I need to make some nutella. I have hazelnuts in my fridge, just gotta make the time! And I will DEFINITELY be making the time for these bliss bars! Oh my goodness. You are a genius. So glad you’re sugar-free :) xoxox

    • Shirley on April 14th, 2011 11:23 pm

      Hi Maggie–Don’t you think it’s true? Foodies just place importance on different actions. ;-) If I had some hazelnuts, I’d make the homemade chocolate hazelnut butter in a heartbeat! That Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter is awfully good though, and tons better than Nutella. Looking forward to hearing what you think, dear!

      I’m not completely refined sugar free, but getting there quickly. Sugar-sweetened items are tasting way too sweet these days! BTW, used your date trick in a smoothie the other day. My blender likes me a whole lot better now that I’m following your “soak in boiling water” method. ;-) I was about killing it before!

      xo,
      Shirley

  14. Kim (Cook IT Allergy Free) on April 15th, 2011 5:10 pm

    Oh my goodness, I can only imagine how wonderful these must taste! And Yay!! So glad to know that others are with me on the wonderful treat of COLD chocolate. What a fun treat this would be to make with the kiddos. And by the way? I am totally impressed that you managed to walk the dog, feed the fish, feed the cat, and put clothes in the dryer in a 20 minute time span. That would take me an hour. I am a very distractable multi-tasker! LOL

    • Shirley on April 17th, 2011 1:15 am

      Hi Kim!–Thse are exquisite if I do say so myself. ;-) And regarding my multitasking, I can really move out when I’m motivated! LOL

      xo,
      Shirley

  15. Sophie on April 16th, 2011 12:13 pm

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
    MMMMMMMMMM
    MMMMM
    MMM
    MM
    M,…..Delightful treats! Yum!

    • Shirley on April 17th, 2011 8:17 am

      Hi Sophie–All of your comments make me want to reach through the screen and hug you!!! Seriously. :-) These Bliss Bars earn their name, so all the MMMMMs are appropriate. ;-) Thanks so much, my dear!

      xo,
      Shirley

  16. InTolerantChef on April 17th, 2011 7:03 pm

    Oooh, I’ll definitly be following this bliss!

    • Shirley on April 19th, 2011 8:26 pm

      Hey there, InTolerant Chef–LOL Yes, follow your bliss! :-)

      Shirley

  17. Linda on April 18th, 2011 3:06 pm

    Wow! You get a lot done in the morning, Shirley. These bars look delicious. I’m glad my challenge helped spur you on so you could share this with us.

    • Shirley on April 19th, 2011 8:41 pm

      Hi Linda–I do like getting things done in the morning. ;-) I’m really very, very pleased with these bars and think I’ll make them whenever I want a decadent tasting, but healthier dessert for guests. Thank you for creating the challenge, Linda! :-)

      Shirley

  18. Alisa Fleming on April 18th, 2011 9:35 pm

    Oh my heavens Shirley! These look and sound amazing. Time to restock my coconut oil!!

    • Shirley on April 19th, 2011 9:20 pm

      Hi Alisa–Yes, get some coconut oil! Although I’m sure you could make them with melted non-dairy “butter,” too, but I like them with coconut oil. :-) Hope you make them and report back!

      Shirley

  19. Aubree Cherie on April 19th, 2011 1:26 pm

    Bliss indeed… I don’t think I could walk to the kitchen to make these without slipping on my drool (wow… that’s kinda gross I guess…) But ANYWAY, ;), I’ve added it to my Favorite Recipes post for last week. Thanks!!! ~Aubree

    • Shirley on April 20th, 2011 9:33 am

      LOL, Aubree! I have to admit blissful (or bliss-inducing?) and droolworthy are both very appropriate adjectives for these bars. :-) I’m making them again for Easter so I can wow everyone else, get a bar (or two!), but not have a whole pan for Mr. GFE and myself. ;-) Yippee, that I made your Favorite Recipes post—thank you!!

      xo,
      Shirley

  20. Sonia on April 24th, 2011 10:33 pm

    I so completely agree with Aubree! This looks heavenly… i can stare and continue staring.. end result… drool puddle… apologies for being gross i guess :) but it is just beautiful!! :)

    • Shirley on April 25th, 2011 11:48 am

      Hi Sonia–Thanks so much! I was a little sad I didn’t have time to make some more of these for my Easter celebration yesterday. But then I realized that when I do make them, there’ll be more for Mr. GFE and me. ;-) LOL, but true for the most part. Might have to share a little.

      Shirley

      • Sonia on April 25th, 2011 12:17 pm

        Awww.. :) the more later the better!! ;)

  21. Kylie on January 30th, 2012 5:34 am

    I’ve only recently come across you website and I’m so glad I have!! :-) My middle son Ethan was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease as well as no dairy when he was 9, he’s 14 now. I made these this afternoon and they are so delicious!! Even our youngest who is the most harshest of food critics said they were delicious. I’m looking forward to trying many more of your recipes. :-)

    • Shirley on January 31st, 2012 4:57 pm

      Hi Kylie–Welcome to gfe! :-) Every time someone comments on this recipe, I think oh my goodness, I really need to make those bars again. I’m so thrilled that your entire family loved them, even that tough critic you have on hand. ;-) I’m not 100% dairy free, but do make most of my recipes dairy free so that’s why I try to share the most. I do share a few other recipes for the “mainstream” as I want to welcome everyone and all my readers (and my support group members) are starting at different places. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment with your very kind words! I look forward to seeing you more on gfe. :-)

      Shirley

  22. Tina on February 26th, 2012 11:19 am

    I came across this recipe just lately, I was looking for a low carb snack bar and this sounded so good. I tried it but I substituted almond flour/meal and added a layer of sugar-free coconut and almonds (could use walnuts)and it is VERY good. I used Splenda for the sweetener and was quite surprised with the result. I also added a few shavings of paraffin wax and they set up nicely. I love them and will make them again.

    • Shirley on March 8th, 2012 10:19 pm

      Hi Tina–A very belated welcome to gfe! :-) I am very, very happy that this recipe worked for you. I love that you used almond flour for the base. I’ll be making that version next time. I can’t get enough high quality nuts. I’m not a fan of Splenda, so I’ll stick with coconut sugar. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share your review and changes, Tina!

      Shirley

  23. Vicky on May 23rd, 2013 1:28 pm

    I think the name says it all! Wonderful recipe Shirley!

    • Shirley on May 24th, 2013 6:15 am

      Hi Vicky–Yes, the name for this recipe is very apt! ;-) Once one tries them, one is hooked. :-) Thanks, dear! Happy weekend!

      Shirley

  24. Brenda on July 28th, 2013 10:28 pm

    These look really good. A bit too much sugar for me where I’m at right now with my health, but definitely bookmarking for future use. :-)

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