Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

Seven Layer Bars a.k.a Magic Cookie Bars, are my absolute favorite holiday treats. The combination of rich chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and the sticky sweetness of condensed milk all coalesce into an incredibly addictive bar cookie. My take on Seven (Six?) Layer Bars is sugar-free, gluten-free, and low carb. It’s a good thing they freeze well ’cause the batch I made today was just too tempting, sitting around on the counter top lookin’ all delicious and gooey!

Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

You’ll need to make a homemade sugar-free caramel sauce to replace that Eagle Brand Condensed Milk that holds these bars together. With a touch of real honey, the sauce is smooth, creamy, and perfect for any dessert that calls for a drizzle of caramel. It doesn’t keep well, so you should prepare and use it immediately. Fortunately, it takes minutes to make.

These homemade sugar-free chocolate chips are now a staple that I always make to have on hand. They do not melt at room temperature, and perform very well in cookies and cakes. You might have to run out and get the shortening and the powdered milk, but those ingredients should be available at most major grocery stores. I have found the powdered milk at Whole Foods and a local health food store here in Florida.

On to cookie making!

Organic powdered skim milk

Non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening

Chopping Ghirardelli 86% cacao chocolate

Making chocolate chunks
Sugar-free chocolate chunks!

Making caramel sauce with erythritol

Chopped walnuts and chocolate chunks on top of a “graham” crust

Seven Layer "Magic Cookie" Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free)

Yields 6
A healthier version of the sticky sweet holiday treat that normally calls for graham cracker crumbs and sweetened condensed milk. This sugar-free version gets rave reviews! It is best served the same day that you make it.

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For Filling
  1. 1 crust (see below)
  2. 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  3. 1/2 to 1 cup sugar-free chocolate chips (see below)
  4. 1/2 cup plus 1/6 cup unsweetened coconut
For Crust
  1. 2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, melted
  2. 1 cup almond flour
  3. 1/2 cup ground pecans
  4. 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 2 tablespoons erythritol
  7. 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
  8. 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  9. 1 egg white, beaten
For Sugar-Free Caramel Sauce
  1. 1/3 cup erythritol
  2. 1/2 tablespoon honey
  3. 1/4 cup organic heavy cream
  4. 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  5. 1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
For “Graham” Cracker Crumb Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together ingredients for the crust, minus the egg white.
  3. Beat egg white with a fork and measure out one tablespoon of it. Add to crust ingredients and stir until a dough comes together.
  4. Press crust into an 8 by 5 loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.
For Sugar-Free Caramel Sauce
  1. Measure out cream and vanilla and set aside.
  2. Heat 1/2 cup erythritol or Swerve, and 1/2 tablespoon (1 and 1/2 teaspoons) honey in a deep saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Swirl pan occasionally until all erythritol is dissolved.
  4. Watch the color of the dissolved sweeteners closely, and pull pan from the heat when it turns a dark amber color (do not let mixture turn black!).
  5. Add cream, vanilla, and stevia, whisking constantly. It will foam up considerably. Stir mixture until caramel sauce is smooth.
  6. Whisk in stevia.
To Assemble the Bars
  1. Pour into a metal or glass bowl and set aside.
  2. Remove chocolate from fridge. Let sit for a couple of minutes until it cuts smoothly. Chop into chunks.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate chunks over crust, then top with chopped walnuts and coconut.
  4. Pour caramel over the coconut, taking care to drench all of the coconut in sauce.
  5. Press down on the coconut all over with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting and storing. These are best when eaten the day you make them.
  8. Wrap in plastic wrap and foil to freeze.
  1. 4g net carbs per bar
Healthy Indulgences


Sugar-Free “Milk” Chocolate Chips

These sugar-free chocolate chips are just as good as the real deal in cookies and my Healthier Seven Layer Bars. Use cocoa butter to make chips that stay firm at room temperature.

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  1. 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Ghirardelli)
  2. 2 tablespoons powdered nonfat milk (Organic Valley) OR coconut milk powder*
  3. 2 tablespoons xylitol or 3 tablespoons erythritol
  4. 1/8-1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
  5. 2 teaspoons nonhydrogenated shortening (Spectrum Organic) OR cocoa butter
  6. *Find packets of coconut milk powder at Target or Asian grocery stores!
  1. Powder erythritol and milk in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet for about a minute, until fine and powdery. Let the mixture settle before opening the blender lid.
  2. Chop chocolate bar and add shortening.
  3. Microwave in a large glass bowl for 35 seconds on HIGH, and stir. Mixture might have lumps.
  4. Heat for 15 more seconds and stir until chocolate is smooth. Microwave in 10 second intervals to completely melt the chocolate, if necessary.
  5. Add in sweetener and fold chocolate around the bowl with a spatula until you get a uniform, smooth consistency.
  6. Stir in stevia, taste, and add more if necessary.
  7. Pour mixture into a pan lined with parchment paper. Smooth out the chocolate to a uniform thickness, about 1/4″.
  8. Chill chocolate in freezer and proceed to make caramel sauce.
  1. ~1 heaping cup (about 1 and 1/8) of chocolate chips is 32g net carbs
Healthy Indulgences


In the spirit of the season, I’ll be giving away prizes as a token of appreciation to readers of this blog. Every day until Christmas, there will be a new post with a featured gift. Leave a comment and win! In a very scientific selection process, I’ll be putting the names of everyone who comments in a hat, and making my sister draw one out. You can win every day if you leave a comment on each post and happen to win every random drawing. Hey, it could happen. Up for grabs is sugar-free sweeteners, chocolate, sea salt, and an extra special prize on the last day! The giveaway is closed. Thanks for participating, everyone!

50 Comments on Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

  1. simplenaturalnourishing
    December 19, 2008 at 12:39 am (14 years ago)

    I’ve been wanting to try erythritol. Those bars look great!

  2. jennifer
    December 19, 2008 at 1:00 am (14 years ago)

    Lauren, I am so thankful to have found your site. I eat low carb and also have a wheat allergy. I’ve used ‘fake’ lc flours before and have to say that your fluffy biscuits beat every low carb bread recipe or product I’ve ever tried. I made a big batch this week to go with a seafood/turnip chowder and served them to guests. Not one person said anything negative or asked if it was one of my ‘weird lc things’.

    The work you’re doing and sharing with the rest of us is appreciated more than you can know. Can’t wait to try these bars and your blueberry muffins. Do you have the carb count for the bars?

    (Also leave my name off this drawing for your contest – I use both sweeteners all the time) 🙂

  3. Viv
    December 19, 2008 at 1:07 am (14 years ago)

    Lauren, I can’t wait to try these bars! I will have to, however, since I have 6 of your pots de Chocolate in my kitchen cooling right now for our family Christmas celebration tomorrow night. We will be enjoying this delicious dessert while the rest of the family enjoy the carby stuff. I can’t tahnk you enough for all the yummy stuff you have given us recipes for! Thank you, thank you!

    Also, leave my name off the list for these sweeteners as I just ordered Erythritol and received the same packages! I love the Emereald Forest sweetners.

    I can’t wait to try the biscuits that Jennifer is talking about, either. They look SO good!

    Have a very Merry Christmas!

  4. Brian
    December 19, 2008 at 1:33 am (14 years ago)

    These look great! I love the photos, too. You really should write a cookbook!

  5. Juanita
    December 19, 2008 at 1:34 am (14 years ago)

    These look yummy! Do you know is something other than honey could be used in the caramel sauce? My DH detests it and swears he can taste the slightest drop of it.

    I, too, have recently started low carb and wondered about the difference between erythritol and xylitol.

    BTW, I made your pumpkin butter gooey cake. YUM!

  6. Cantering Cookies
    December 19, 2008 at 3:19 am (14 years ago)

    I’ve never tried Erythritol or xylitol. I use Stivia and love it, but would like to try other alternatives to. =)

  7. MelodyM
    December 19, 2008 at 3:52 am (14 years ago)

    These look great! I am making them tonight!

  8. Sophie
    December 19, 2008 at 3:58 am (14 years ago)

    Yum! I’m still trying to figure out what kinda holiday treat to make this year :D. Those sweeteners are so new to me, I’d love to try ’em :).

  9. spunkysuzi
    December 19, 2008 at 4:33 am (14 years ago)

    I’m drooling over those pictures 🙂

  10. Anonymous
    December 19, 2008 at 10:37 am (14 years ago)

    Hi Lauren!
    All I can say is. . you are a genious!! You’re recipes have been such a blessing to me and I appreciate all the work you put into making the delicious low carb sweets!!

    Thank you!
    Your low carb friend.

  11. Marilyn
    December 19, 2008 at 2:37 pm (14 years ago)

    These cookie look Magical!! I have tried several of your recipes from pudding to pumpkin and every recipe turns out perfect. We are so lucky to have you and your wonderful recipes! Merry Christmas

  12. Lauren
    December 19, 2008 at 4:42 pm (14 years ago)

    Simplenaturalnourishing – Thank you!

    Jennifer – I am so glad you have benefited from the site and the recipes. That’s so cool your guests enjoyed the biscuits! The carb count is at the end of the post. 🙂

    Viv – Enjoy the pots de creme. I’m glad you like the recipes! Hope your Christmas celebration goes well.

    Brian – Thank you! I hope to write one someday.

    Juanita – Great question! I think brown rice syrup or maple syrup would work just as well. Xylitol can have undesirable side effects, so I try to avoid using it if possible. 🙂

    Cantering Cookies – Thanks for stopping by!

    MelodyM – Hope the cookie bars work out for you!

    Sophie – You have so many delicious looking recipes at your blog that I’m sure you’ll come up with something great for Christmas!

    spunkysuzi – Thank you!

    Anon – Glad you are enjoying the recipes, Diana! 🙂

    Marilyn – Your comment made my day! So glad you are benefiting from the recipes.

  13. noosh.
    December 19, 2008 at 5:34 pm (14 years ago)

    hi lauren, thanks for stopping by my site! i’m so glad to have found yours and will definitely be trying out some recipes soon 🙂

  14. bethinNC
    December 19, 2008 at 8:02 pm (14 years ago)

    These look like another awesome addition for the holidays. My list of things to bake keeps growing longer, and longer, and longer 😉 Well, as a LCer, that’s a good problem to have…who can complain about delicious and healthy options?? Happy Holidays, Lauren, and thanks for your wonderful contributions. You truly help make LCing for life so much easier.

  15. Rachel C
    December 19, 2008 at 8:13 pm (14 years ago)

    Oh wow! I am so excited… been trying to figure out how to make caramel with an alternative sweetener. I can’t wait to try that erythritol. have to get some!
    thanks so much for your blog. I have been telling everyone about it, it is sooo great!

  16. Kimberly
    December 19, 2008 at 11:55 pm (14 years ago)

    I just got my first bag of Erythritol today:) These bars look very yummy!

  17. Lauren
    December 21, 2008 at 5:02 pm (14 years ago)

    noosh – Thank YOU for stopping by!

    BethinNC – It is a good problem to have! Nourishing and natural treats make the holidays sweeter. Thank you for reading my blog!

    Rachel C – How kind of you to spread the word! Hope the caramel works out for you.

    Kimberly – Have fun with the erythritol!

  18. Katty
    December 23, 2009 at 11:39 pm (13 years ago)

    I'm just wondering if instead of erythritol for whatver reason if I don't want to use it or whatever, if I can use Splenda instead??

  19. Lauren
    December 24, 2009 at 12:42 am (13 years ago)

    Katty, if you got some chocolate that was already sweetened (low carb chocolate), then these cookies should turn out pretty well with Splenda only. 🙂

  20. dee
    March 30, 2010 at 9:31 am (13 years ago)

    that looks delicious! Too bad I can't replicate it. SF chocolate is so expensive here. Looks really good though! Thanks for sharing awesome recipes.

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    May 27, 2010 at 10:32 pm (13 years ago)

    Hi healthy magic cookie bar i love the bar i eat it all the time i love it i really do

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  23. kamagra
    March 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm (12 years ago)

    OH my gad , I ma dreaming in eat it , I love the thinks with a lot of flavor and different forms of eat, I think that the recipe is so easy to cook, I am going to make it tomorrow , thanks for the help!22dd

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    March 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm (12 years ago)

    What delicious food, I love these cookies , they look really delicious, I want to buy and eat it,my sister cooks so delicious cookies!!22dd

  25. Anonymous
    January 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm (11 years ago)

    These are out of this world. I made two recipes back to back, and dream of making them again. Thank you thank you thank you! Each recipe I make of yours, I like more than the last if that's even possible! Book! Book! Book! Also ::::small voice::: petit fours please??? xoxoxo

  26. Lauren
    January 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm (11 years ago)

    Anon, the book is in the works. I am pushing myself to get 'er done before February! Thanks for your sweet comment. 🙂 Petit fours, wow… got any ideas for flavors?

  27. Anonymous
    January 25, 2012 at 4:19 am (11 years ago)

    Do I have ideas?! Your pound cake for starters. You just need to figure out a healthily indulgent fondant. (listen to me, “just” LOL). Anyway, I did send you some links a while back … Just search your email for “harstin” 😀

    Speaking of pound cake! Have you ever made french toast with yours? That's my next indulgence! Mamma mia!!!

    I will buy any book you write. I'm actually tempted to run a fan club for you! Hehe.

    Thank you again!

  28. Tammy
    August 2, 2012 at 5:10 am (11 years ago)

    Lauren, once again I really do appreciate all the work you have done perfecting these recipes. Can I substitute full fat coconut milk for the cream in the caramel sauce?

  29. Lauren
    August 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm (11 years ago)

    Hi, Tammy! I'm not sure if the coconut milk has enough fat to thicken the caramel. Sounds like a worthy experiment! 😉 Do let me know if you end up trying it.

  30. Sheila
    November 2, 2012 at 7:22 pm (10 years ago)

    Thanks so much for all your work and experimenting. I have cut out starches and sugars over the last 5 months, and have gotten my 18 year old daughter on board as well, as we are both trying dietary changes to improve thyroid and adrenal fatigue issues. Your website is a lifesaver! Biscuits, muffins, lemon bars, instant chocolate cake, key lime pie, bread rolls, chocolate chip cookies, coconut pancakes…everything we have tried has been an unqualified smash hit. And we are both feeling better and really glad to be eating this way! I am looking forward to trying this recipe with pecans (sort of a pecan pie bar) and your pumpkin cake to take to the family Thanksgiving gathering this year! Thanks again…you are really using your gifts to bless others.

  31. Kelly
    July 25, 2013 at 10:28 pm (10 years ago)

    These look so amazing!. Can you make a sugar free low carb sweetened condensed milk recipe?.

  32. Lisa
    August 22, 2013 at 9:36 pm (10 years ago)

    have you ever had a problem with the erythritol crystallizing in the caramel sauce?

  33. laura
    December 11, 2015 at 11:07 am (7 years ago)

    Can you use coconut oil instead of the palm oil? I am so excited to try these!!

    • Lauren B.
      December 22, 2015 at 4:59 pm (7 years ago)

      Laura, you can use coconut oil, but the bars might be a bit oily at room temperature. The palm shortening is a bit more solid. Hope that helps!

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