Vegan Magic Cookie Bars

by on October 17, 2007
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Warning: This is not a fat-free recipe. In fact, there is absolutely nothing healthy about this recipe except, perhaps, the nuts. This is definitely the most fat-filled, junk foodish recipe that you’ll see on this blog, ever. I just want to make that clear right from the start or else I’ll get letters. I’ll probably still get letters. (You know who you are.)

Vegan Magic Cookie Bars

Have you ever gotten a craving for something and you finally just had to give in? My mother used to make these overly-rich but amazing treats for holidays and special occasions, but in the last few years I never even thought about them, assuming that they were lost to me because they contain a primary ingredient that is so non-vegan that it’s hard to conceive of a workable substitute. But something I saw on another blog or in a magazine must have reminded me of them because suddenly the craving was there and I just couldn’t let it go.

No, strike that. I think I could have let the craving die a natural death, but there was something about the challenge of veganizing a seemingly unveganizable recipe that spurred me on. Sure, the idea of revisiting an old childhood favorite had its appeal, but I think the explorer in me just wanted to see if it could be done. So I spent literally days coming up with a recipe that I thought might work before putting it to the test, afraid even as I did it that I’d wind up wasting my time and ingredients. But, miracle of miracles, it worked, and they tasted just like how I remember my Mom’s.

Vegan Magic Cookie Bars

What are they like? They’re decadent. They’re melted chocolate, coconut, and nuts on a buttery crust of graham cracker crumbs held together by a creamy layer of…Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk? Well, they used to be, but not anymore. Believe it or not, my old friend silken tofu worked its magic again!

Vegan Magic Cookie Bars

Again: Not a fat-free recipe!

Vegan Magic Cookie Bars

(printer-friendly version)

Note: I don’t recommend substituting this tofu mixture in every recipe containing sweetened condensed milk, but it does work in this one. The cornstarch helps it thicken as it cooks, so definitely don’t try it in recipes that are not cooked.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1/3 cup vanilla soymilk
  • 1/3 cup unbleached sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Margarine
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (check package ingredients carefully–most aren’t vegan)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and spray a glass 8×8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. In a blender, puree the tofu, soymilk, cornstarch, and sugar until completely smooth.
  2. Put the margarine into a bowl and melt it in the microwave (or do this on the stove and pour into a bowl). Add the graham cracker crumbs and mix until well-moistened. Pour them into the prepared baking dish and press evenly to cover the bottom of the pan.
  3. Pour the tofu mixture over the crust. Sprinkle with the nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips, and press it all into the dish firmly with a fork.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into about 16 bars. Devour!

Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 16

 

I really didn’t want to know the nutritional profile on these, but I made myself look. One bar (1/16th of recipe) contains 160 Calories (kcal); 9g Total Fat; (51% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 71mg Sodium; trace Fiber.

I suppose that’s not too horrible if you can keep yourself from eating more than one (in my dreams!) Still, I’ll be reserving these for special occasions. I’m definitely bringing some to my parents’ house for Christmas!

Some ideas for future testing:

  • Leaving out margarine and making them with this oatmeal crust instead.
  • Carob chips?
  • Agave nectar instead of sugar

Oh, if you’re wondering, the nutritional profile of the non-vegan version is almost identical to this one except it has 2 mg. of cholesterol. So please don’t think this recipe is healthy just because it’s vegan!

In my next post I will atone by making something super-healthy. I’m thinking winter squash, greens, and beans. Yum!

 

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SusanV August 1, 2009 at 9:42 am

Older comments were lost when the blog was updated. I’m posting them here:

Anonymous Alisa said…

If fat-free foodies can’t forgive you for this one, then they need some help! This is the lowest fat, healthiest version of this insanely unhealthy recipe I have ever seen. But they look pretty darn good. This was one of my childhood fav’s too : )
3:03 PM, October 17, 2007
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Anonymous jessica~ said…

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH! Those look fabulous! I can deal with 9g of fat… but I don’t know if I could only eat one. Yikes. Now I just need a party or event to go to so I can make them. Thanks!!
3:06 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger kaivegan said…

You mean this is not fat-free?

Well, I haven’t made a comment here in so long, but just had to come out of hiding – what you said cracked me up! Give me a break! People actually write you letters like that?

You’ve given us so many great, healthy recipes and I’m grateful for that!

I forgive you… just this once. lol

((waving at Susan))
3:14 PM, October 17, 2007
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Anonymous Diana said…

OMG! Those look so yummy! Just looking at the pictures makes me drool! Who cares if they aren’t fat free! I believe you can have a healthy diet and still indulge occasionally. I can’t wait to make them.
3:24 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger Mihl said…

You won’t get any letters from me. I totally forgive you. These look just too good.
3:30 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger Lydia said…

While you’re atoning, I’ll be happy to eat any leftovers! These bring back some kind of primal craving from my childhood, too.
3:34 PM, October 17, 2007
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Anonymous Anonymous said…

This recipe looks amazing! Do you have any suggestions if I wanted to take out the coconut? Replacements? Do you think it would terribly affect the recipe?

Thanks!
3:34 PM, October 17, 2007
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Anonymous KathyF said…

We used to call those Hello Dollies. And they were the best things that ever came out of my grandmother’s kitchen. I seriously love those.
4:03 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger VeggieGirl said…

this looks so luscious and decadent!! love it!! oh my goodness I am DEFINITELY carob’s most loyal fan, so I’d definitely try these bars with the carob!!! yum!!!
4:15 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger S. said…

OH MY GOD! I’m in love with you now. I thought these would be impossible! Thank you thank you thank you.
4:16 PM, October 17, 2007
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Anonymous Anonymous said…

WOW, thats all, just WOW….

((drooling))
4:23 PM, October 17, 2007
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Anonymous Anonymous said…

Oh, would you mind too much giving me the original recipe? The non-vegan one?
4:49 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger Nichole said…

Wow. I don’t even know what to say other than THANK YOU! I know I don’t drop in as often as I should to compliment you, but this deserved a little extra effort on my part. So yay for you and your recipes and your beautiful food photos and everything else you do. I think you also need to share this recipe with Dhaba Joy in Austin, they used to have Magic bars but killed them because they were moving towards vegan everything… perhaps some vegan magic bars and the oatscream would make a happy marriage.
5:10 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger SusanV said…

There are a lot of versions out there, but here’s the one I used: http://www.favoritebrandrecipes.com/Recipes/040/3677001040.htm. Notice that I halved the original recipe.
5:14 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger Liliy said…

You mentioned earlier in the blog that you take photographs for cookbooks. Just wondering how much it would cost for a couple photos.
6:00 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger SusanV said…

Lilly, it really depends on what’s involved. Why don’t you email me (blog AT fatfreevegan DOT com) and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.
6:02 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger Vivacious Vegan said…

Susan, you’re amazing! I remember my mom making these and I used to love them. I will be trying these babies out this weekend for sure.
7:37 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger Deborah said…

Oh my, oh my, oh my.

That’s the most profound thing I can think of. Besides…must…make…these…soon…
8:15 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger Monika K said…

Mmmmmm…resistance is futile!
9:28 PM, October 17, 2007
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Anonymous foiledagain said…

you made my day with these, what a surprise! i loved the magic cookie bars that my mom used to make, and although i’ve seen recipes for vegan condensed milk, i just haven’t bothered. thank you!
9:31 PM, October 17, 2007
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Anonymous Anonymous said…

You are definitely an angel from heaven. Can’t wait to try these yummers!
11:10 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger LizzyQ ~ Vegan Mother said…

I almost ate my computer screen.. I need to make these right now.. but it’s late.. so I will be dreaming of these tonight!
11:46 PM, October 17, 2007
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Blogger bazu said…

These look amazing. My mother in law makes them every X-mas, I wonder what people would do if I tried to sneak these much better ones into the cookie rotation? Unfortunately my evil plan will have to wait, since I’m not going there this winter… ha ha!
You’ve done it again, Susan!
6:06 AM, October 18, 2007
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Anonymous Kristine said…

Oh, it is so good to know that you are human…
6:30 AM, October 18, 2007
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Anonymous Ash said…

Sooo saved to my Christmas Recipes folder! Can’t wait to try these.
7:10 AM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger Deb Schiff said…

Gorgeous! Thanks for the warning. I’m really interested in trying this with the oatmeal crust, agave nectar and carob.

I really enjoy your blog. Keep up the great stuff!
8:45 AM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger The Veggie Cookster said…

These look totally awesome! I may try making them this weekend to take to my cousin’s birthday party. :) Beautiful photos, too. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe! :)
11:39 AM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger kickpleat said…

wow, this looks so good and i’m bookmarking these for a future use…christmas goodies or a party! yum.
1:19 PM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger Kristina said…

eee!!!!

Thanks SO much! I’m really sensitive to milk (darn lactose) so I haven’t been able to eat this for ages, and I love them. Now I’ll have to make your recipe for the work bake sale. :)
1:45 PM, October 18, 2007
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Anonymous Jana said…

Those look like they would beat the winter blues right out of me… really really ridiculously delicious! It’s an unwritten law that fatty Holiday foods must be consumed once a year for the sake of mental stability! ;-)

I love these, unfortunately I am allergic to soy so the pleasure of trying these won’t be mind. *cries*
1:45 PM, October 18, 2007
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Anonymous Anonymous said…

Hi, we made these but they kept falling apart. What did we do wrong? We used all ingredients exactly as listed and followed directions.

Thanks.
2:52 PM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger Nabeela said…

You get letters if you don’t post fat free recipes? That’s like….criminal or something! This is your space and you can cook anything you want…and people can keep their criticism to themselves!
3:03 PM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger SusanV said…

Anonymous, mine were a little bit crumbly, but when they were completely cooled they held together well enough to pick up and eat. You can try putting them into the refrigerator for a while (but cut them first because cutting through the chocolate is hard when they’re chilled). Sorry to hear yours fell apart!

Nabeela, I get email about all sorts of things, and most people are wonderful. There are a few people who take issue when I post higher-fat recipes, most with constructive criticism. I started this blog to help people who are following a fat-free diet, so I do feel a little guilty about posting unhealthy stuff. But not so guilty that I don’t do it from time to time!
3:19 PM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger Johanna3 said…

A question:
extra-firm silken tofu is the ones that come in box like the mori nu brand?

thanks
5:10 PM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger Susan said…

Oh, yes, you should receive letters. Of thanks! These magic bars are making me weak in the knees.
5:46 PM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger SusanV said…

Johanna2, Yes, either firm or extra-firm of the Morinu-type tofu will work.
9:09 PM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger aTxVegn said…

Yummeeee! Even fatfree vegans should indulge on occasion.
9:23 PM, October 18, 2007
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Blogger mare said…

Yow! If the agave could work and I used a GF crust this would be the ONE thing both my diabetic SO and I could perhaps indulge in…a little.

Thanks Susan!!
10:46 PM, October 18, 2007
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Anonymous Kat said…

Well sometimes I need to have something to eat that’s a little naughty, especially when everything that touches my lips is healthy and good for me. Let us all indulge a little. Thanks for the recipe, they look delicious.
10:32 AM, October 19, 2007
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Anonymous Nicole said…

Susan!! These so good! I certainly wasn’t expecting to find something like this on your blog but I have to say it’s a nice surprise ;-)h
10:00 AM, October 20, 2007
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Anonymous Anonymous said…

HOLY MOLY, you have veganized chewies. At least, that is what we call them. I am vegan but every time these show up it is an extreme battle of will not to have one.

And now it will be an extreme battle of will not to eat ALL of them!
3:29 PM, October 20, 2007
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Blogger zippiknits said…

Did anyone tell you how cruel this is? hahahahaha! I’m going to make them tomorrow!
6:36 PM, October 20, 2007
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Anonymous Anonymous said…

I made these yesterday and they were fantastic! I did like you said and pressed them down hard in the pan and let them cool completely before cutting. They were a little crumbly at first but held together good the next day. Thanks for a awesome recipe!
5:48 PM, October 21, 2007
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Blogger maybepigscanfly said…

These are just like my dad’s favorite cookies (but non-vegan)- but we call them “church cookies.” I’m not too sure why and I never questioned it.
7:34 PM, October 22, 2007
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Blogger mel said…

Vegan Hello Dollies! Ohmygoodness!!! Well, Hello Dollies is what my mom always called them. We used to make these around the holidays.

She’s goin to be floored when she finds out we can still have them this year! She’s so worried about what I’ll eat when I come home for the holidays.
8:11 PM, October 22, 2007
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Blogger VeganLinda said…

I love you! My mom used to make these too (we just called them seven layer cookies or Linda’s favorite cookies LOL). I can’t wait to make them. Thank you!!
8:47 PM, October 23, 2007
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Blogger Rachel said…

I made these today and brought them to a party, and everyone loved them!

The only problem I had was that the crust wouldn’t spread thin enough to cover the bottom of the pan. So I covered half the pan and made an extra batch of crust for the other half of the pan. It worked great.

I noticed that other people had problems with these crumbling, so I let them cool completely before cutting, and they held together well.

Next time I might add more coconut, just because I love it so much.

Thanks for the great recipe!
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9:04 PM, October 27, 2007
Anonymous Salina said…

this is an amazing recipie for my church superbowl party i bet they will never know it’s vegan =]
8:17 AM, February 03, 2008
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Blogger Hardcore Herbivore said…

Thank you. I just put mine in the oven. I look forward to trying it. I used soft tofu, cause that’s all I had. I had that will still be okay????
4:12 PM, August 24, 2008
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Blogger lydia said…

I just made these yummy cookie bars. When I wasn’t allergic to dairy/eggs I would made this kind of thing with sweetened condensed milk and real butter, but these are just as delcious. Brought them to the office today to get rid of them before I ate them all. I didn’t tell anyone they were vegan or what the secret ingredient was, they all loved them.
12:42 PM, October 28, 2008

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2 Manda P. September 17, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Thanks, SusanV, for this post!
Magic Cookie Bars are a fond childhood memory and one of the first recipes I learned how to make!
I couldn't help but noticing the comment saying the final product was crumbly and fell apart. I haven't made the recipe yet, but I did realize a difference in the instructions from the "real" Magic Cookie Bars (non-vegan); My mom always poured the Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk over the top of EVERYTHING! It was the last thing you did before baking. Maybe that has something to do with the "staying together" and not falling apart? I am trying this today, and perhaps I'll post the results.

Thanks, Manda

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3 Esther December 7, 2009 at 6:15 am

I sent this recipe and picture of course, with my Christmas cards- thought it would be a lovely gift to give. I've made several people including my best friend, who adores these, very happy. I have heard many veggie friends lament over not being able to reproduce the sweetened condensed milk. This is really ingenious! Thanks Susan!

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4 Linda M.M. October 29, 2010 at 9:22 am

Susan, Congratulations on this recipe! Its amazing that you took the time to re-do it! Just proves that almost anything can be given some redeemable factor whether it be fiber or non-animal product and still taste good.

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5 Sue November 21, 2010 at 8:51 am

Ah!!! Thanx for this recipe!! I adore magic bars. They are like candy. However, I could care less that they are high in fat. The fat in this recipe is healthy fat, so who cares? I’d eaten a 10% fat diet for a Year and half. It did bring down my cholesterol levels, but wasn’t sustainable as I was hungry way too often. Then a few months ago, I became vegan. Much happier eating nuts, etc; keeps me full much longer. And guess what? Plant bAsed fats are good for the heart and arteries. Plus, most of us are woefully lacking in omega 3 fats, which one wouldn’t get on an extremely low fat diet.

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6 Sue November 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I made these and sampled ‘em. They were good enough. Though, in future, I think I will use almond butter or cashew milk, the corn starch, instead of the tofu, which is rather bland. The cashew butter( I’d make this myself) or almond butter, and the almond milk have mild flavors, which shouldn’t interfere too much with the rest of the recipe.

I would never leave out the margarine. It adds a much needed richness. I use light smart balance, which is vegan and has only a small amount of saturated fat, and no trans fats. It has flax, which confers some omega 3 fat.

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7 Sue November 25, 2010 at 4:35 am

I am amending my former post. I think if I’d used either vanilla soy milk or added vanilla to plain soy milk, it would make it tastier. I only had plain almond milk. Perhaps if I’d added vanilla to that, it would be less bland. However, with the choc chips and the Graham cracker crumbs, the bars are still damned good!!!

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8 Celia March 25, 2011 at 10:21 am

Susan,
I made the magic cookie bars – they were good last night, but even better today. Thanks for such a great vegan recipe. Even though they aren’t in the “healthy” category, it is nice to have a vegan dessert.

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9 veganlvr June 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

I am a baaad girl cause I made these and love love love them. Quick tid bits I used a 9×9 pan all I had so I doubled the entire recipe except the sugar cooked it 10 min longer they were perfect! No cumbling perfect packed lil cookie bars I store them in the fridge when my non vegan grand parents came over they gobbled them up with coffee and were amazed it was vegan! Great recipe!

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10 Marie October 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Did you forget to include sweetened condensed milk to this recipe?

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11 Marian Hamilton October 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

WOWZERS! This was always one of my FAVES to make for Christmastime. CAN’T WAIT to try this recipe!! I’m SO GLAD you give us the occasional non-fatfree recipe, Susan. We need a little splurge once in a while!! :)

Keep up the good work. Your recipes are YUMBO & the photos are DIVINE!! xxMarian

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12 Raina October 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm

So let me get this straight: these aren’t fat free? LOL!

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13 Tanya October 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I am sooooo making these the next time i have to bring a treat since everyone thinks vegans only eat tree bark :)

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14 Tara October 15, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Oh my god, I officially love you!!!

I have missed these since being vegan, because like you I couldn’t think of how to make that recipe vegan. These are going on my to do list right away!

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15 littlebird June 13, 2012 at 10:57 am

Is there an alternative to the coconut flakes (oats maybe)? Could they be left out completely or would the bars not hold together?

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16 Shari June 26, 2012 at 9:55 pm

When I saw this recipe I started drooling almost immediately! These used to be one of my favorite things before I became a vegan and I have craved these for years but didn’t know how to make them without the condensed milk. THANK YOU!! :)

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17 mlreuter September 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Hi Susan! Had to share a piece of feedback with you on these. I made these for a very special occasion, and they smelled and looked AMAZING. I was so excited to share these and taste them myself… and then, just as I was ready to leave the house, they vanished. After a few moments of searching, wondering if I dreamed the whole thing, I found the completely empty, licked-clean pan underneath the couch… along with two very guilty-looking dogs (don’t worry, I already consulted with the vet and we don’t think the chocolate is an issue). So unfortunately, I didn’t to try them myself, but I thought you should know that your recipes are now officially canine-approved. :) Hope to make/actually eat them again this weekend!!

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18 AmethystJean October 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Thank you for your genius version. This is one of those crazy memories that I have been revisiting and thinking about veganizing too

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19 Patricia December 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Can you omit the tofu and just thicken the soy milk or use coconut milk? Could you add cocoa powder to the milk mixture instead of chocolate chips? I think fresh coconut would be delicious here but might be too wet?

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20 Susan Voisin December 21, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Sorry, I haven’t tried the recipe using any of those substitutions. The coconut milk would probably work, but frankly, without the chocolate chips, I think they’d be terrible.

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21 Alli March 28, 2013 at 5:39 am

I was looking for a dessert recipe for Easter. As the only vegan in the family, I normally just grab a piece of fruit when I want dessert. But special celebrations call for something special.

I had decided on the carrot cake bars when all of a sudden I spotted my most favorite dessert in the world – magic cookie bars. Be still my heart! Can hardly wait til Sunday!

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22 Harini April 22, 2013 at 5:01 am

Hi Susan, i tried this recipe with few changes at my own risk,but it came out awesome,please check it in my blog if you have few minutes.thank you for a great recipe….

Harini

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23 ReneeL October 20, 2013 at 10:46 am

I always use applesauce instead of oil or butter when baking. Assuming that would work here, this recipe isn’t SO bad for you. =)

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24 Laura October 20, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Did you ever try this with the fat free oatmeal cookie pie crust? That could make a pretty big difference in the fat gram count, yes?

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25 Susan Voisin October 21, 2013 at 7:55 am

I never did. It would make some difference, but the biggest fat contributor is the chocolate chips, so it would still be a very high-fat dessert.

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26 Terri December 19, 2013 at 2:29 am

Made this tonight for my Holiday Party at work – the samples I snuck were amazing! And so excited to get to do this again tomorrow evening for hubbies work party the following day, his bosses are vegan and I am vegetarian, so we wanted to try these – awesome – and thanks!!!

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27 madeleine July 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I wonder if there’s a way to make sweetened, condensed soymilk…

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28 Sarah Mc October 18, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Susan,

Just more support – no problem with this recipe! Rigidity is probably as unhealthy as the stuff you mostly try to avoid. I gave up sugar in 1991 (only went vegan last Dec.), but over the years when I have “cheated”, my mother-in-law has said to me, “Sometimes, you just have to feed your soul.”

Feed your soul, feed our souls, and don’t give it a second thought!

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29 Leann October 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I’d like to send a letter – and say THANK YOU for this recipe. It looks awesome and just like the “real” thing, only better!

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