Healthy No-Bake 3-Layer Chocolate Espresso Bars {GF, Vegan}

by alexandra

Healthy No-Bake 3-Layer Chocolate Espresso Bars - dessert taste without the guilt!|

I ♡ no-bake recipes. Because really, as much as this blog is all about BAKING, it’s also about making treats that don’t involve baking but taste everrry bit as good – like pumpkin cheesecake shooters and apple cinnamon energy bars. That’s partly because these kinds of recipes are usually less involved (at least the way I tend do them!), partly because they’re not as easy to screw up in any way, and partly because the good conscience in me knows that it’s important to keep the oven off sometimes and do things the environmentally-friendly, energy-saving way.

Healthy No-Bake 3-Layer Chocolate Espresso Bars - dessert taste without the guilt!|

I don’t claim to be THE most green person in the world, but there are little habits I have to be greenER,  like keeping things unplugged when I’m not using them and loading up the dishwasher completely before I start it (which is never really a problem with all the dishes I use every day – trust me). Of course there are tons of  tips you can follow to save energy, but sometimes it’s the simplest ones that are easy to forget. Going the no-bake route with a recipe is just another one of those things I do here and there because saving energy by skipping that hour or so of oven time is a good way to be a little nicer to the the environment AND saves $$$ on energy bills. Win-win.

Healthy No-Bake 3-Layer Chocolate Espresso Bars - dessert taste without the guilt!|

I’m SO super excited to share these bars with you guys because they’re honestly like rich, guilty-pleasure treats that are actually healthy in disguise. They’re loaded with all kinds of good-for-you ingredients like almonds, oats, dates, and extra-dark chocolate (antioxidants!!!), but they taste like fudgy little bites of chocolate-espresso heaven. You’re probably getting really skeptical on me right now (I would be getting really skeptical on me right now) but I promise you that I’m the last person who would call anything healthy a dessert unless it really tasted crazy-good. I could/would/should eat these for dessert every night. They’re BOMB.

Healthy No-Bake 3-Layer Chocolate Espresso Bars - dessert taste without the guilt!|

Here’s the breakdown: The bottom layer of the bars is a cocoa-almond-oat mixture, naturally sweetened with dates and just a tiny tiny tiny bit of pure maple syrup, that’s soft, fudgy, and chocolatey. Then there’s a layer of almond butter (I used my fave DIY vanilla bean version) mixed with espresso to become this chewy, caffeine-spiked mixture with a bold coffee taste. And last but maybeeee most important is the top layer, which is basically pure dark chocolate – the perfect match for all that coffee goodness. Together, you have three layers of part-brownie, part energy-boosting snack, part I-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it-except-sinfully-good deliciousness. AND it’s no-bake. Heck yes.

Healthy No-Bake 3-Layer Chocolate Espresso Bars - dessert taste without the guilt!|

Healthy No-Bake 3-Layer Chocolate Espresso Bars - dessert taste without the guilt!|

Healthy No-Bake 3-Layer Chocolate Espresso Bars (Gluten-Free, Vegan)*

  • Yield: 16 bars


An easy-to-make, fudgy bar that can function as an energy-boosting snack but tastes good enough to be dessert.


Chocolate Bar Base

  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) almond flour
  • 5 1/2 ounces (1 cup, packed) pitted and halved Medjool dates
  • 1 1/8 ounces (1/3 cup) cocoa powder**
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 1/4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) old-fashioned oats
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) water
  • 1 tablespoon espresso***
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Espresso Almond Butter Filling

Chocolate Top Layer

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
  • flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)


Chocolate Bar Base

  1. Line an 8″ square pan with foil and grease foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the almond flour, dates, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment and process until the mixture is coarse. Add the oats and pulse in to incorporate – bits of oat should still be visible. Add the water, espresso, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and process until most of the dough clumps together.
  3. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of prepared pan (it helps to use a wide, flat spatula greased lightly with cooking spray to do this). Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

Espresso Almond Butter Filling

  1. Mix together the almond butter, espresso, and espresso powder until evenly combined. Press over first bar layer in pan to cover. Refrigerate until firm.

Chocolate Top Layer

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl in the microwave for 30-second increments, stirring in between, until completely melted. Stir in the coconut oil until smooth. Pour over the almond butter layer of the bars and tilt the pan around to allow chocolate to spread and smooth out evenly over top. Cool for a minute or two before sprinkling with sea salt, if desired. Allow to cool at room temperature until chocolate has set (it will still be soft) before slicing into bars. Store bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


*If you want these bars to be 100% gluten-free and vegan, be sure to use gluten-free oats and vegan dark chocolate.

**I used dutch cocoa to intensify the chocolate flavor, but regular cocoa powder will work as well.

***If you don’t have espresso you can sub strongly-brewed coffee

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Thalia @ butter and brioche November 22, 2014

I can definitely see myself munching down on a couple of these no bake bars 0 it’s crazy how healthy they are too!
Thalia @ butter and brioche recently posted..Dark Chocolate Ganache and Marzipan Birthday CakeMy Profile

alexandra November 23, 2014

YES! Healthy foods that don’t taste healthy are the best! ;)

Paul November 22, 2014

They look delicious, love chocolate and coffee as a flavour combination. I could do with a couple of those just now.
Paul recently posted..Ginger and Chocolate Chip BiscuitsMy Profile

alexandra November 23, 2014

Thanks Paul! The chocolate-coffee combo is always a winner! :)

Ashley November 23, 2014

Yum!! That espresso almond butter filling sounds awesomeeeee. As do the rest of the bars! :)
Ashley recently posted..Pumpkin Cheddar StuffingMy Profile

alexandra November 23, 2014

Thanks Ashley! The filling is pretty perfect – especially with all the other layers.

Kate December 5, 2014

The recipe is missing from the post and I really want to make these!!

alexandra December 5, 2014

Thank you so much for letting me know! Not sure how that happened but it’s back up there again. :)

Winnie December 19, 2014

These look absolutely fantastic!!
There is no doubt that I’m going to make them
Thank so much for sharing!!
Winnie recently posted..דונאטס תפוחים וקינמוןMy Profile

alexandra December 22, 2014

Hope you love them as much as we did!

Avra May 20, 2015

Is there any way to make these without dates, or will that totally mess with the texture?

alexandra June 2, 2015

That would definitely throw things off, unfortunately. Do you not have access to dates, or are you just worried you wouldn’t like the taste? I can tell you that you’ll never know dates are in the recipe by the taste!

Avra June 2, 2015

Unfortunately, it’s not a taste thing but an access thing. My budget doesn’t allow dates. Also, I do not have the food processor which the dates require. (I’m in a college dorm. ;) )

But thank you for replying. :D

alexandra June 3, 2015

I see, that’s a tough one! Good for you for trying to make your own food in that situation. I give you props!

Stephanie White June 8, 2015

Yum this sounds so good. I can’t wait to give this a try.
Stephanie White recently posted..STEPHANIE’S PLAYLIST: JUNE 2015My Profile

Valentine November 11, 2016

They look delicious! Nutrition info?

alexandra November 21, 2016

Hi, I really never calculate nutritional facts for my recipes, but I’d suggest plugging the information into a nutrition calculator online if you want this info! :)

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