Call them what you will: magic bars, layer bars, 5-layer bars, 7-layer bars (if you can’t count), magic cookies, layer squares, or 7-layer cookie bars (if you can’t count or identify a cookie when you see one). I am always tempted by these messy-looking squares when I see them at parties and in bakeries. And I am always pleasantly surprised by their texture, crunch, and layers of sweetness that are revealed by each bite. So when I randomly craved one of these crumbly numbers the other day, it was time to find out what was actually in them and go about making them myself.
Seeing as how I didn’t know what traditionally composed a magic bar, I went in search of recipes. Each seemed to have it’s own take on the use of butterscotch chips vs. peanut butter chips. Some used pecans, some salted peanuts, some walnuts. Even chocolate (chocolate!) was absent in some versions. After much research and countless google searches, I settled on one from Paula Deen: Five Layer Bars. Paula’s take seemed the most classic to me, so I set forth to gather my ingredients.
These bars take all of five minutes to prepare, so be sure to preheat your oven while you’re assembling the layers. First, melt the butter and pour it over the graham cracker crumbs.
Mix together with a fork until the crumbs are thoroughly moistened.
Press the mixture into the bottom of a greased or sprayed 9″x13″ pan.
Next, sprinkle on your butterscotch chips…
*I’ve beaten this horse to death, but I swear by Ghiradelli 60% Cacao chips. And no, they don’t pay me to say that. But if they want to throw me some free chips, I wouldn’t object!
…chopped nuts (I used walnuts)…
…and flaked coconut.
Now here comes the tricky part. First, get in a fight with your can opener over a can of sweetened condensed milk. Eventually let the can opener win. Go down to your tool bench and grab a hammer and a chisel. Tell that can who its daddy is. Go to store. Buy a new can opener.
Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the bars. I found a small pitcher made this easier, probably because the can was hacked to death.
Try to distribute the milk as evenly as possible.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting (I sped this process up by letting them cool slightly and then placing in the fridge. I’m antsy like that).
Marvel at the sweet, crunchy textures.
I love how the graham cracker base seems to meld with all of the other ingredients—the chocolate, butterscotch, nuts and coconut seem to sink in to form one unique flavor. Perhaps this is where the “magic” moniker stems from?
If you need a fast, easy dessert for a party or a bake sale, there is nothing faster or easier than these. And with their addictive sweet layers, they’ll fly off the plate like…dare I say it? Magic.
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 14 graham crackers whirred in a food processor, if you don’t have the boxed crumbs)
- 1 stick salted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Press into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle pecans, chips and coconut on top. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the mixture and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely and cut into bars.