My first experience having a magic cookie bar was in college when my roommate’s mom would mail these elaborate care packages for us to share. What is the combination of coconut, chocolate, nuts all on a graham cracker crust!?!? I was overwhelmed to say the least. It was gooey goodness that helped us push through finals every single time she sent them. Thanks Ms. Patti!
I haven’t had a magic cookie bar in years, but when I agreed to participate in an Instagram Bake A Long with @NYUTransfers I immediately knew that I would share the magic of these cookies bars for two reasons:
All you need is a bowl and a 9×13 pan. If you don’t have a pan, you can get a disposable one OR you can improvise and use a cake pan — anything that has a flat bottom and sides that come up at least two inches.
The original Magic Cookie Bar recipe involves nuts, but my house is nut-free and it’s not really a big deal to replace the nuts with anything else. If you have a dietary restriction (vegan, gluten free) with a little bit of thought you can tweak the basic recipe to suit your needs.
Why are they called Magic Cookie Bars?
I don’t know the actual answer to this question, but my guess is that these bars are so easy and so unbelievably good that it has to be magic. It literally doesn’t make any sense otherwise. This is a low stress, high reward kind of recipe.
1. A cookie base. I use graham crackers in this recipe, but you could substitute any crisp cookie like Oreos, Nutter Butters, Vanilla Wafers, etc. Did you know that Oreos are Vegan?
2. Melted Butter creates the cookie crust, but any butter substitute will do, like coconut oil or Smart Balance.
3. Sweetened Condensed Milk. This is the magical part of the how this combination of ingredients turns into a cookie. Like I said before, I don’t know how it works, I just know that it does. I used Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, but there are non-dairy alternatives that you could swap in instead — I am curious how those turn out so if you use one, please send me a note!
4. Toppings. The sky’s the limit. You can use any of combination of the following: chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, toffee chips, pretzels, pecans, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pretzels, craisins, raisins, trail mix, mini-marshmallows, dried mango, shredded coconut, potato chips(!!!), leftover halloween candy
An easy cookie bar recipes that is customizable and requires little equipment
15 graham crackers (approximately, see notes below)
4 tbs butter (or butter substitute) melted
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup crushed pretzels
½ cup m&ms
½ cup chocolate chips
1 9×13 pan
Gallon size Ziploc bag
Optional: Parchment paper or aluminum foil
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF
- Prepare the 9×13 pan. If you are using aluminum foil or parchment paper, line the pan so that the paper hangs over the sides allowing you to remove the bars from the pan when they are cooled. If you aren’t using foil or parchment paper, spray the pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Put the graham crackers (or other cookies) in the gallon sized ziploc bag and close it tightly. Crush the graham crackers in the bag (using a rolling pin, or even a canned good!) until the crackers resemble fine crumbs. Pour the crumbs in the bowl and then stir in the melted butter. The butter should moisten the crumbs, not drench them.
- Press the crumb/butter mixture into the baking pan.
- Open the can of sweetened condensed milk and pour it evenly across the graham cracker crust.
- Sprinkle even layers of pretzels, chocolate chips, m&ms and nuts on top.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing into bars.
For a 9×13 inch pan, you need approximately 2 1/4 cups of cookie crumbs. If your pan is smaller, you can reduce the number of cookies and butter.
Keywords: Magic Cookie Bars