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Cookie Bars That Practically Seem like Magic (Are They?)

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I've lived nearly 30 years and never made Magic Cookie Bars before this. December remedied this serious oversight for me, and I'm grateful. Here's why: Magic Cookie Bars (also known as Hello Dolly Bars or 7-layer Bars) are some of the simplest, yet most decadent bar cookies you can bake.

Magic Cookie Bars
Magic Cookie Bars

You know those occasions when you need a slam dunk, crowd-pleasing dessert? Bake sales? Birthday celebrations at work? Potlucks? Picnics? A baby shower? This recipe is what you should make. Don't hesitate. They are very good: gooey and crunchy and buttery and delicious all at once. They're versatile, too. If you don't like coconut, or your friends dislike pecans, just swap in something else. You can also add extra layers of ingredients. I'm planning to try a Nutella version, and a cookie butter version, and one with cacao nibs and caramel (and and and...).

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Making the bars is simple. You melt butter, pour it into your pan, and press a layer of graham cracker crumbs into the butter. Pour a can of condensed milk over the pan. Add a layer of chocolate chips, toasted nuts (any kind you like), and coconut and bake! I like to use a mix of unsweetened coconut flakes and sweetened shredded coconut for texture and to cut back slightly on the sweetness.

These bars are waiting for whatever layers you wish.
These bars are waiting for whatever layers you wish. Photo by Posie Harwood

Twenty-five minutes later, your bars are ready. If you find the recipe slightly too sweet, try a mix of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate. These bars freeze beautifully, and are a fantastically simple recipe for any baker to keep in their back pocket. Eat one warm from the oven, with a glass of cold milk, and revel in the magic of how a few simple ingredients can be transformed into something so wickedly delicious.

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Magic Cookie Bars

1e4d7b52 fd4f 4798 ae19 d0f715768358  ry 400 Posie Harwood
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Makes one 9 x 13 inch
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped toasted nuts
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
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Tell us: Have you made Magic Cookie Bars (or however you call them!) before?

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Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.