Nutritious and delicious, this Heavenly Hunks Birthday Cake recipe is a copycat of those viral gluten-free cookies we have all been munching on on our way home from Costco! They are a no-bake treat that is gluten-free, vegan, and can be whipped up in under 30 minutes. Everyone will love these as a snack while running out the door or a healthier dessert to end the day with.
- First, what even are Heavenly Hunks?
- So why should I make them if I can buy them?
- Ingredients and Substitutions
- Recipe Testing Notes
- How To Make Heavenly Hunks
- Watch How to Make This - Step by Step
- Joy Tip!
- Common Questions
- Recipe Variations
- Want to Save it for Later? Here’s how!
- Fun Fact
- More Snack Recipes
First, what even are Heavenly Hunks?
Heavenly hunks are no-bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bites that are made right here in the Midwest! They are vegan and gluten-free and their classic flavor is made with oats, coconut, and chocolate chips (we are big fans of the birthday cake version though!). They can be bought on Amazon, at your local Costco, and even at Sierra Trading Post.
So why should I make them if I can buy them?
While you can get the tasty chocolate version at Costco, these birthday cake heavenly hunks are not available in all stores, hence why you need to make them with this recipe! For more reasons why you need to keep this recipe in your back pocket, see my notes below. They also make a great snack to whip up at the last minute to take to school events, to the lake, and on the road.
- Great last-minute snack - If you need something that is allergen friendly to whip up for a school event, having friends over, taking to the lake, or eating on the road, then these are it! You just need to mix them in a bowl and then pop them in the freezer or cooler to let them set while you do whatever else you need to do. Possibly easier than last-minute rice krispie treats!
- Allergy-Friendly - These treats are gluten-free, vegan, and peanut free. That means they can be served to almost anyone (except those allergic to coconut).
- Easy to scale - You can quickly double or triple a batch of these to make as many as you need. We all love a good bulk recipe!
Ingredients and Substitutions
All substitutions are a 1:1 substitutes unless otherwise noted.
Cashew Butter: We love using cashew butter to create a smooth texture, and add protein, but not affect the flavor.
Substitutions: While we highly recommend cashew butter because of its mild flavor, creamy and unsweetened nut butter will work. This could be almond butter or macadamia butter.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a great option for no-bake desserts because it is liquid when heated and solid above 78 degrees. We like to use pure, unrefined coconut oil.
Substitutions: Palm oil or melted cocoa butter can be used in place of coconut oil.
Coconut Shreds: These add not only tasty coconut flavor, but adds grit and bite to the texture that is just so dang delicious!
Substitutions: Any style of unsweetened coconut flakes can be used. They can also be substituted with additional blended oat flour if needed.
Rice Flour: Rice flour is a great, semi-secret, way to add texture and grit to dishes. It helps everything hold together. We use white rice flour but brown rice flour works too!
Substitutions: You can substitute this with additional ground oat flour or tapioca flour. You could also use almond flour, potato starch, or vanilla-flavored protein powder. I do not recommend gluten-free flour because it has a very distinct flavor that is not great in these birthday cake heavenly hunks.
Rolled Oats: This is the base of heavenly hunks. Oats are a great base for these treats because they are easily found gluten-free and can act as flour or as a mix-in.
Substitutions: The only substitution option for this is quick oats. Steel-cut oats should not be used!
Brown sugar: We find that brown sugar is a great addition to these hunks because it adds a slightly caramelized flavor.
Substitutions: Coconut sugar or additional cane sugar can be used. You can also use brown rice syrup, agave nectar, or maple syrup but the texture of the hunks will be slightly softer.
Cane sugar: Even though these snack bites are allergen friendly, they are not short on sugar. These are tasty bites for us sweet tooth fiends! You can use less sugar overall if you do not want them as sweet.
Substitutions: You can substitute any white sugar low-calorie replacement, with additional brown sugar, or with coconut sugar.
Vanilla: While you could get “birthday cake flavoring”, we have trouble finding it. But it’s basically vanilla flavor with more sweetness and buttery-ness so for this recipe using vanilla extract works perfectly!
Substitutions: We love pure vanilla extract but imitation vanilla can be used. Almond extract is another great option!
Sprinkles: Obviously we need sprinkles for birthday cake anything! We like to use ones with natural dye and that is vegan.
Substitutions: Feel free to use any kind of sprinkles you enjoy!
Recipe Testing Notes
Throughout our testing of these heavenly hunks, we learned some key things that worked and didn't work. Here are the key takeaways!
Rice flour really does make a difference:
Rice flour has a very mild flavor and a very light and fine texture. This allows it to absorb liquid and “grab” the other ingredients. Without it, the hunks do not hold together as well.
A note on coconut oil:
The original recipe for heavenly hunks uses palm oil to hold them together at room temperature and through transport because its melting point is pretty high at 95 degrees. However, palm oil is not all that easy to find and we are not shipping these hunks so we opt for coconut oil in our homemade heavenly hunks.
Please note that coconut oil’s melting point is much lower at 76 degrees. Therefore these treats are best kept in the fridge, in a cooler, or at least in the shade.
How To Make Heavenly Hunks
Step one: make oat flour and melt the oil
Use a high-powered blender, food processor, or coffee grinder to grind half of the oats into a fine powder. In a large bowl, melt the coconut oil and cashew butter and mix together.
Step two: mix it all together
Add everything except the chocolate chips to the large bowl with the coconut oil and cashew butter. Mix until a dough forms, then mix in the sprinkles.
Step three: shape
Pour this mixture into a greased (with coconut oil) loaf pan or a glass container about the same size or around 5” x 7”. I like to use my Pyrex for this since it is glass and has a lid already.
Step four: let them harden
Cover the container and let them set up in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes. Pop the oat block out onto a cutting board and cut into 9 even squares. Enjoy (possibly with candles and confetti!).
Watch How to Make This - Step by Step
We want to make sure you get the best possible product, so here are some additional, simple tips to ensure this recipe is pure perfection for you!
- Struggling to get these out of the pan? Try carefully sliding a butter knife around the perimeter. Flip the container over and tap until it breaks free. Due to the high content of oil in these bars, they will hold together while working them free but also should not stick to the bottom so it is only a matter of breaking the edges free.
- Taking these on the go? If you plan to take these heavenly hunks on the road, keep them in the freezer until you are ready to go. They will soften and be perfect for eating when you arrive at your destination!
Yes, both store-bought and those from this heavenly hunks copycat recipe are best when stored in the refrigerator. Although they do not need to be kept in the fridge, they just taste better that way!
Nope! Heavenly Hunks are totally vegan-friendly.
Yes, heating up Heavenly Hunks cookies is a delicious warm treat that I find best to enjoy with hot chocolate or coffee!
So obviously this is a variation of the traditional heavenly hunks, but here are some more ways to mix them up!
- Tropical Hunks: Swap out the sprinkles in this for freeze-dried pineapple to make a tropical version.
- Caffeinated Hunks: For a little caffeine kick, swap out the sprinkles for instant coffee. Yay for getting buzzed!
- Peanut Butter Hunks: For this variation, swap the sprinkles for chopped peanuts and the cashew butter for creamy peanut butter.
Want to Save it for Later? Here’s how!
These heavenly hunks keep super well! Here’s how to do it!
Fridge: Store these in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the fridge.
Freezer: These can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 months in the freezer. Just let them warm up for 15 minutes before eating straight from the freezer.
Did you know national sprinkle day is July 23rd? Well, now ya do! These celebrated celebration ingredients begin their rainbow-colored existence in 1930s New York, known as Jimmies. They were marketed as a way to top cakes, so while the name has changed, their use is still the same. (source)
More Snack Recipes
These are some of our other favorite snacks:
Did you try this and love it? Leave us a review, we would love to hear from you!
- ¼ cup cashew butter
- ½ cup coconut oil melted
- ¼ cup coconut shreds
- ½ cup rice flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-¼ cup oats blended into flour
- ½ cup oats
- 3 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 tablespoon cane sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- ⅓ cup sprinkles
- Add 1 cup of rolled oats to a blender and pulse until a flour is formed.
- Add coconut oil and cashew butter to a large bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Then mix these together.
- Add everything else to the bowl, except the sprinkles and mix until combined. Then fold in the sprinkles.
- Pour into a greased bread pan, loaf pan, or glass dish that is about 5”x7” in size. I like to use my small Pyrex for this since it already has a lid. Pat down the top to level it.
- Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes to set. Cut into 9 even squares. Store in the fridge for 2 weeks covered or in the freezer for 3 months.