magic bars

I am currently sitting here in fuzzy socks and sweatpants, eating a sliced baguette and reflecting on life while The Voice plays in the background. This week kind of trampled over me and left me wanting nothing more than to spread myself out on the floor in starfish position forever, but it was well worth it. I got to experience some exhilarating new things this week, including dancing in our school's International Nite (a huge shebang in which every cultural club at our school performs). I also got to wear a sari and pretend to be Indian for a day, which was pretty exciting. The only downside was that apparently saris are kind of revealing, and I had not prepared my diet accordingly. Oops.

It probably didn't help that I baked for four different birthdays this week, because as everyone knows, taste-testing is the most crucial part of the baking process. The rule of thumb is: don't feed your friends anything you wouldn't enjoy eating yourself. This is great and very considerate and all, until you accidentally bake the best thing ever and keep on taste-testing until you suddenly find yourself with only ten cookies instead of twenty, or a pan of brownies with all the crunchy edges mysteriously missing. Again, oops.

Luckily I maintained my self-control with these magic bars for my wonderful, beautiful, heaven-sent friend, Irene. Why are they called magic bars? I read about it somewhere (and forgot), but I'm pretty sure it's because they come together like magic - just layer a few simple ingredients, stick it in the oven, and you've got yourself a delightfully decadent dessert (or breakfast, I don't judge).

I made these pretty often last year during my "bars" phase, during which I saw a whole lot of "graham cracker crust + something" combinations. This recipe is so easy and tastes so amazing that it's remained in the birthday baking rotation and has even been requested several times. They live up to their name in terms of taste, too :)

The original recipe says it makes enough for an 10 x 15 pan, but I found that 9 x 13 works perfectly. Make a lot of these, share with your friends, and spread the love.


Magic Bars

3 cups finely ground cookies (12 ounces), such as graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup pecan pieces (or other chopped nuts)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 and 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly splash a 9-by-13 inch baking pan with water, then line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, sugar, and butter until combined. Evenly press onto bottom and up sides of prepared baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until firm, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool, about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle cooled crust evenly with pecans and chocolate. Pour condensed milk over the top, spreading to cover completely (do not let it drip over the edges). Sprinkle with coconut.

Bake until coconut is toasted, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely. Trim edges, if desired, and cut into equal-size bars.

from Everyday Food, June 2005