- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Makes 1 (13x9-inch) pan
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.
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...).
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.
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. —Posie (Harwood) Brien
Test Kitchen Notes
Magic Cookie Bars—aka 7-Layer Bars—are just that: pure magic. The old-fashioned, kid-friendly dessert never, ever disappoints, in part because they’re so easy to make, but also because they’re just so dang delicious. The basic premise of the timeless treat is this: a graham cracker crust topped with a layer of sweetened condensed milk, followed by a sprinkling of chocolate chips, nuts, and sweetened shredded coconut. (Emphasis on the sweet, here. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, this dessert probably won’t thrill you, and that’s okay—more for me!)
Another thing that’s magical about these bars aside from just their name? They’re a one-pan recipe, with the exception–please don’t get mad–of melting the butter in a separate bowl. Rather than mixing the butter and graham cracker crumbs in one large bowl, then adding them to the baking pan, you’ll actually mix the two ingredients together directly in the pan until they create a soft, sand-like texture. Add the toppings one at a time, then bake for just 25 minutes. And though you’ll be eager to dig in, these are best served at room temperature, so try to exercise patience.
This is the most traditional recipe, but you can switch out honey graham crackers for chocolate graham crackers or crushed cookies. (Oreos or gingersnaps would be delicious here.) If you want, use white-chocolate chips instead of dark-chocolate chips. Oh, and go ahead and use any kind of nuts you please, though we recommend pecans or walnuts. As for using sweetened condensed milk and shredded coconut, that’s non-negotiable.
unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups
graham cracker crumbs
sweetened condensed milk
semisweet chocolate chips
chopped toasted nuts
sweetened shredded coconut
unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Into a 13x9-inch baking pan, pour the butter, swirling to cover the pan evenly. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the butter in an even layer. Pour the milk over the graham crackers in an even layer.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips in an even layer over the milk. Add the nuts (in an even layer), then the shredded coconut and coconut flakes. Press down with a fork.
- Bake the bars for about 25 minutes, then let cool before slicing and serving.