I’ve been making Magic Cookie Bars since I was a kid, but I think the version I make today is a little different from when I started out. I usually only make them around Christmas time, but every year I get a lot of compliments on how good mine are. I think it’s because over the years I’ve made a lot of little tweaks to both the recipe and the method. I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that I do1
Preheating the oven to 325°F is always the first step. I use 325°F instead of 350°F because I use a glass pan. That is actually my first tip. I use a glass pan (like this Pyrex Baking Dish) instead of a metal one, because I always found the edges would get to brown in the metal pan. That would also cause all the bars along the edge to stick. The glass pan doesn’t over do the edges and they don’t stick nearly as much.
Next, I melt a stick of unsalted butter in microwave at half power for about a 1-2 minutes to get it to melt. Then pour the melted butter into the pan.
Sprinkle 1.5 cups of graham cracker crumbs over the butter. I like to buy the pre-made Graham Cracker Crumbs rather than making them myself from whole graham crackers. I’ve tried using whole graham crackers that I processed in the food processor, but I could never get them as fine as when buying them “pre-crumbed”. Make sure to distribute the crumbs evenly and then press down a little to get them to set.
Next I pour an entire 14 ounce can of Sweetened Condensed Milk over top the crumbs. Going nice a slow is important here so that you get an even coating. Make sure you get all the way to the the edges too.
The next layer that I put on is the walnuts. I start with one cup of walnut halves and finely chop them using a mini food processor. When processing nuts it’s good to do it in very short pulses. If you process them for too long the oils start to separate and you’ll start making walnut butter. 5-10 pulses should get you a nice fine mixture. Evenly sprinkle the walnuts over the sweetened condensed milk.
I usually weigh out my flaked coconut (3.5 ounces), but by volume I use about 1 1/3 cups (I usually use Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut). Sprinkle the coconut on next followed by one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I then gently press down across the pan in order to set all the ingredients together. Early on in making them I found that the bars would often start to fall apart when you go to cut them. I haven’t had that problem at all since I’ve started to press down on both the graham cracker crumbs at the beginning of the recipe and then again on the entire thing at the end.
Bake at 325°F for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are starting to brown. I then let the tray cool overnight before I cut in to them. I usually cut them into 1.5 x 2 inch rectangles which yields 36 bars. (the last row of bars will be a little bigger).
How to Make Magic Cookie Bars
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups (6.1 oz) graham cracker crumbs
- 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/3 cup (3.5 oz) sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 cup (3.5 oz) walnuts, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F if using a glass dish). I prefer to use my 9×13 glass pyrex dish to bake these because the edges don’t get as brown as they do when using an aluminum pan.
Place the melted butter in a 9×13 pan and spread it out so it is even.
Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs on to the melted butter so that it is completely covered. Make sure you distribute the crumbs evenly. Once covered pat the graham cracker crumbs down a bit to make sure they stick together well.
Pour the sweetened condensed milk over top the graham cracker crumbs, again making sure you distribute evenly. Going slow here is important so that you get a nice even coating.
Finely chop the walnuts, preferably in a mini food processor to get them really fine. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the sweetened condensed milk.
Next sprinkle on the flaked coconut followed by the chocolate chips. Press down gently across the top to bind all the ingredients together.
Bake at 350°F (325°F if using a glass dish) for 25-30 minutes. The edges should just be starting to brown.
Allow to cool completely (I usually let it sit overnight) before cutting. I cut the squares into 1.5 x 2 inch rectangles and get about 36 bars. One row of bars will be a little bigger, but you can really cut them to whatever size you like.
These can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature. They last for at least 1-2 weeks, but they are usually all eaten before I even get through week 2 so they may last even longer.
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