Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars

Dulce de leche is translated as candy of milk or milk candy.

These (candy) bars are translated as one of the richest things I’ve made in 2013, and one of the best.

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

If you’re the type of person who complains about desserts being too sweet or too rich, stop reading now because these bars are both.

Dulce de leche is similar in texture and thickness to thick homemade caramel sauce, but rather than being made from butter, brown sugar, and cream like caramel sauce, it’s made by cooking sweetened condensed milk. It’s caramely, sweet, rich, and smooth.

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

I’ve always loved Seven Layer Bars (Hello Dolly Bars) and these bars are a riff on those. They’re a five layer bar made with shredded coconut, chocolate and white chocolate chips, and rather than sweetened condensed milk, I used dulce de leche.

I’m at my home in Aruba where I spend every December and August, and being only 10 miles from the equator, dulce de leche fits right in.

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

But coming up with these felt like an episode of Chopped. Here’s what went down in my head.

You must use: At least 1 of the 3 bags of shredded coconut that you’ve somehow accumulated. You must use an almost expired can of dulce de leche. You cannot use cocoa powder because there’s not enough left to do anything with. You cannot bake cookies or muffins because your oven sucks. You must use some of at least two of the partially-used bags of white/chocolate/peanut butter/butterscotch chips. You cannot make a no-bake bar because you make too many of those already.

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

Only one bowl is dirtied, no mixer used, and they take 5 minutes to get from cupboard to oven.

The base layer is a stick of melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and flour that’s stirred together and pressed into a pan. It’s not quick as thick as cookie dough, but nearly.

The brown sugar and butter caramelize while baking, intensifying and adding to the overall deep caramel flavor in the bars.

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

Then sprinkle on white chocolate chips, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, and top with half of one can of dulce de leche. You can buy dulce de leche in many grocery stores, including Eagle or Nestle brands, Williams-Sonoma makes one, or try La Salamandra online.

Make your own by submerging 1 unopened can of sweetened condensed milk into a boiling pot of water for 3 to 4 hours. Voila, dulce de leche.

If you absolutely don’t want to be bothered, you can substitute with sweetened condensed milk, but you’ll miss out on the lovely caramel flavor and thick, rich texture. Or you could try using half caramel sauce, half sweetened condensed milk.

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

Biting into the bars is a texture and flavor lovers’ dream.

The dulce de leche bubbles and caramelizes in the oven, turns thicker, and becomes bronzed.

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

The white chocolate chips underneath are creamy, melty, and complement the dulce de leche and the coconut. The coconut toasts slightly while baking, but doesn’t get crispy because it’s covered by the golden dulce de leche layer.

The brown sugar cookie dough base firms up and add some heft, firmness, chewiness, and structure to the softer, gooier topping layer.

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

I’m grateful for forcing Chopped onto myself because otherwise I never would have come up with these.

And I’m really glad I did. They’re worth running in the heat for.

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

Print Print Recipe

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars

These rich, soft, gooey, five layer bars are a riff on Seven Layer Bars. They're made with shredded coconut, chocolate and white chocolate chips, and rather than sweetened condensed milk, use dulce de leche. It's thick, rich, caramely and available in many grocery stores, online, or make your own (see blog post). The recipe calls for half of one can, and the unused portion can be used as ice cream topping, smeared on toast, as a fruit dip, in your coffee or tea, or double the recipe and bake in a 9x13 pan, thereby using the whole can. The dulce de leche caramelizes and turns golden and bubbly, but keep an eye on bars and lower oven temp to 325F or tent pan with foil if yours is browning a bit too quickly or too much. The bars are a texture lovers' dream, and they're made in own bowl, no mixer, in less than 5 minutes. Cooling the bars overnight is recommended.

Yield: one 8-by-8-inch pan, 9 to 12 squares

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 mintues

Total Time: about 2+ hours, or overnight, to allow for setting up

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (butterscotch or peanut butter chips may be substituted)
1 cup loosely packed sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
half of one 14-ounce can dulce de leche (make your own, or storebought; sweetened condensed milk may be substituted but the flavor/texture of bars will change)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. Lining your pan is mandatory so bars don't stick and for cleanup ease.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
  3. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, optional salt, and stir until just combined; don't overmix.
  5. Turn mixture out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula and spreading mixture into corners.
  6. Evenly sprinkle with white chocolate chips.
  7. Evenly sprinkle with coconut.
  8. Evenly sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  9. Pour or scoop out about half the can of dulce de leche and evenly spread it with a knife or spatula over the chocolate chips. Take your time and use a light hand as to not disturb the underneath layers. It doesn't have to cover all crevices because it spreads some as it bakes.
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until dulce de leche is golden, bubbly, and bars show signs of being set around the edges. The coconut will look crispy at the edges. Because ovens, ingredients, and climates vary, use your judgment when your bars are done. Watch your bars, not the number on the clock. If at any time your dulce de leche layer seems to be browning too fast, turn your oven down to 325F and/or cover the pan with a sheet of foil.
  11. Allow bars to set up for at least 2 hours, or overnight (strongly recommended), before slicing and serving. The butter in the base, the natural coconut oil, and the milkfat in the dulce de leche all seep out while baking, but reabsorb as the bars cool over time. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Related Recipes

Coconut White Chocolate Chip Blondies

Magic Eight Bars – Like Seven Layer Bars, but with 8

Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars (almost no-bake) – One of the favorite 2013 bars

Nutella-Swirled Peanut Butter Chip Blondies – Made these the last time I was in Aruba and they turned into a Pinterest hit

Nutella-Swirled Peanut Butter Chip Blondies - Easy One-Bowl No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars - Easy, One-Bowl Recipe at averiecooks.com

Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

Browned Butter Caramel and Butterscotch Bars

Cookie Butter Funfetti Triple Chip Bars

Coconut Peanut Butter Magic Cake Bars

10-Minute Homemade Hot Fudge (GF) – Never buy storebought again

10-Minute Homemade Hot Fudge averiecooks.com

Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Have you tried dulce de leche?

   

51 Responses to “Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars”

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    Ellen — December 14, 2013 at 12:34 am

    I still haven’t gotten round to making dulce de leche! Must do.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 14th, 2013 at 6:43 am

      I think you’re going to love it!

      Reply

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    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — December 14, 2013 at 4:03 am

    So pretty and tasty looking! These look great!

    Reply

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    Paula — December 14, 2013 at 4:39 am

    I’ve never tried dulce de leche but its easy to find here. I can imagine how yummy it is and what it does to magic 8 bars….these look rich, gooey and caramel-y. I’m staring out the window at our first few inches of snow and am thinking how much I’d rather be someplace warm where I can throw on shorts to go for a run rather than bundle up to go to the gym!!! I bought about 15# of kabocha yesterday and 2 football sized spag. squash. The browned butter was so good but I also loved the cinnamon-stevia sweet variety too. Enjoy Aruba!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 14th, 2013 at 6:42 am

      Oh glad to hear you tried both the browned butter and the cinn/sugar/stevia squash combo. Im going thru squash withdrawals here. Been doing sweet potatoes and it’s not really the same but my choices are nothing or butternet that are like $5 per pound. So a normal little b-nut is $15. No thanks :) I need pina colada money. LOL

      And yes with the dulce de leche about everything you said on Magic 8 bars!

      Reply

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    Laura Dembowski — December 14, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Love sweet, rich desserts like this! My mom always gets full when we’re eating a heavy dessert, so I’ve started cutting her piece smaller and mine bigger :). Do you think caramel sauce would work in these instead of dulce de leche?

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 14th, 2013 at 6:40 am

      It would/could work but it won’t lend quite the same creamy factor. If you don’t have dulce de leche, I’d use half caramel sauce and half sweetened condensed milk, that way you’ll kind of get the best of both worlds. And I like your piece-cutting strategy :)

      Reply

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    Tieghan — December 14, 2013 at 5:51 am

    I tried dulce de leche over the summer and fell madly in love. It is so good! The bars look incredible. Kind of like a 7-layer bar, but so much better! I love the cookies base and all the coconut! Pinned of course!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 14th, 2013 at 6:39 am

      Thanks for pinning & knowing what you like in your desserts, and all the texture/flavor combos you use, I bet you’d love these! And yes 7-layer ish, but with dulce de leche!

      Reply

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    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust — December 14, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Averie. These are the best bars ever. And hello, where was my invitation to Aruba? (Kidding. :))

    Reply

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    Emily @ Life on Food — December 14, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I am too rich and too sweet for my own good. These bars seem perfect for me. I cannot wait to try them.

    Reply

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    Katy — December 14, 2013 at 7:49 am

    I’ve only used Dulce de Leche once in baking and I was in love, it’s so much better than caramel especially if you can find the stuff imported from Argentina. These bars look amazing, and I’m very envious that you have heat to run in!! :)

    Reply

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    Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen — December 14, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I was literally day dreaming yesterday about being on one of those cooking shows, like chopped, where you are given such random ingredients to work with. I thought how I would never succeed on one of those shows, how fun to force yourself to do it! I might have to try this at home! The dulce de leche looks amazing baked on top of these bars!! Wowzers, defo worth running in the heat!!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 14th, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Do it! Force some chopped on yourself – it’s a great way to clean out your pantry and make something you never would have anyway!

      Reply

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    sippitysup — December 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    If someone really did find this too sweet or too rich I suppose they could just eat the dulce de leche. Which is the perfect balance of sweet and rich. GREG

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 14th, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      You always crack me up – love it :)

      Reply

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    Layla @ Brunch Time Baker — December 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Your killing me here! I don’t think it can get much better than this! <3

    Reply

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    Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic — December 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    I love dulce de leche and start to panic when I’m down to my last can/jar at home. These bars look luscious!

    Reply

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    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — December 14, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    You had me at “flooded with dulce de leche” – you can’t go wrong with that!

    Reply

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    Rochelle @ Oh So Sweet Baker — December 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I always complain that desserts are too sweet or rich, but damn these look goid. Maybe I can manage a small square often.

    Reply

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    Sarah & Arkadi — December 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Awesome bars! I am drooling!

    Reply

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    Tracy | Pale Yellow — December 14, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Too rich or sweet? Never!!! Just have a smaller piece. These bars look fantastic!

    Reply

  17. #
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    Katie — December 14, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Dulce de leche will always remind me of Costa Rica – you could buy it in these solid hunks at the store. It was ubiquitous – more common than sugar even. And DELICIOUS. So much better than caramel or brown sugar or molasses or any combination of those three. There are a lot of “hacks” I’ve read online, but nothing can come close to the real thing.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 15th, 2013 at 5:23 am

      Solid hunks, wow, I’ve never heard of that! I was in Costa Rica for a month, albeit not cooking and not going to the local grocery stores really intending to cook, but what I wouldn’t give to go back there now, and re-do the month I had there back in 2001. Feels literally, like a lifetime ago. It was :)

      Reply

  18. #
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    Lauren @ imperfectandfabulous.blogspot.com — December 14, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    These sound like an even yummier version of Girl Scout Samoas! Pinned and added to my must make list.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 15th, 2013 at 5:22 am

      Girl Scout Samoas = GREAT comparison! They taste a TON like that! I should have called them that (however I do have a recipe for Samaos bars but I think these are even closer in taste!) Thanks for the pin!

      Reply

  19. #
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    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — December 15, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Dude, how perfect are these bars? And dulce de leche – my ultimate weakness! I’ve only made dulce de leche once in the slow cooker (best method ever!) but I can’t make it again because once it’s made, I can’t stop spooning it on everything!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 15th, 2013 at 5:21 am

      I have an extra half can (well now, almost none left – LOL) b/c I was just going at that sucker with a spoon :)

      Reply

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    SallyBR — December 15, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Absolutely amazing! I don’t have much of a sweet t0oth, but having grown up in Brazil with my Mom boiling the sweetened condensed milk in the pressure cooker to make “doce de leite” (that’s Portuguese… :-) this concoction of yours made me dream… and some of those in your round up collection are equally amazing!

    Great posr!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 15th, 2013 at 5:19 am

      Growing up in Brazil, then you know exactly what great dulce de leche inspired desserts are like, no doubt! I love that story about your mom – great memories for you I’m sure :)

      Reply

  21. #
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    Jaclyn — December 15, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Now these are my kind of bar! They look amazing!

    Reply

  22. #
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    Mary Frances @ The Sweet {Tooth} Life — December 15, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I’m going to go buy dulce de leche by the gallon so I’ll have the excuse of having to use it up. These are INCREDIBLE. And I thought gooey bars, seven layers, etc. couldn’t get any better. I can’t decide if it is a good thing that you proved me wrong! :)

    Reply

  23. #
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    Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) — December 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    These bars are perfection and all I ever wanted in a bar!!

    Reply

  24. #
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    Alison Lewis — December 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Aaaaamazing looking

    Reply

  25. #
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    Jenn@eatcakefordinner — December 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Well, whether you’re in Aruba or Cali your pics are still stunning.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 15th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks, Jenn! I really hate my pics down here but nothing I can do. The light is just weird and ultra golden in my house..but goes with the warm, caramely vibe I guess :)

      Reply

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    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) — December 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    SO ooey and gooey and caramel-yyyyyy!!!

    Reply

  27. #
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    vanillasugarblog — December 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    OK Ms Aruba these bars are very ooey and gooey.
    That should be the next installment for your book: Ooey & Gooey Goodness!
    lol

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 15th, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      LOL…there is a topic, but it’s not that. I wish though :)

      Reply

  28. #
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    ashley - baker by nature — December 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I loooooooove dulce de leche! These bars look incredible, Averie!

    Reply

  29. #
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    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — December 15, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Seriously can’t even tell you how much I want one of these right now!

    Reply

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    Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes — December 15, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    These look so delicious!! I love dulce de leche, love coconut, love chocolate…put it all together..! :)

    Reply

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    Dina — December 16, 2013 at 9:04 am

    they look amazing!

    Reply

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    Valerie — December 16, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I have a lot of “Chopped” kitchen moments too! (It’s kind of fun…as long as I’m fueled with coffee.) These bars look deadly! *love*

    Reply

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    Gaby — December 16, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Wow! These look fantastic. So gooey and sweet!

    Reply

  34. #
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    Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures — December 20, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I love these ingredients! Luckily, I’m not afraid of a little sugar!

    Reply

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    Angie — July 16, 2014 at 12:41 am

    I had this burning desire to make these the past few days but dulce de leche, let alone sweetened condensed milk is kind of hard to get here in Kenya. Anyway, I decided, screw that one missing ingredient, I’ll just replace it with Homemade Caramel Sauce! These were freaking amazing- the caramel had a sweet, gooey taste backed up by the slightly toasted caramel tones; the white chocolate chips sealed the deal…I wish I had used all white chocolate instead of 1/2 white, 1/2 semi-sweet but there’s always next time! So although these bars *may* have tasted better with dulce de leche- caramel sauce did the job for me. LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 16th, 2014 at 2:06 am

      Well dulce de leche and caramel sauce are pretty closely related, actually! D de L is milkier but it’s caramelized sweet milk; and caramel sauce is caramelized cream and butter. So I think your swap was an excellent one! So glad you made and enjoyed them and I love that you have a big list of recipes you want to make! Thanks for reading all the way from Kenya!!

      Reply

  36. #
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    Angie — July 16, 2014 at 12:44 am

    BTW, I have a bucket list of “Averie Recipes” to make before school starts … I have a LONG way to go!

    Reply

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