I have one more full week of summer before I return to work. Teachers in our parish go back to work next Wednesday. I’ve tried to ignore the impending doom, but it’s here anyway.
So I will spend this week stocking my freezer with meals for the tough days that lie ahead. Those first few weeks of school are the worst. I, like most teachers, will drag myself home at the end of the school day and want nothing more than to drop onto the couch and sleep. Alas, also like most teachers, I have a family to care for. A group of people who will peskily whine about needing food and help with homework. I didn’t take them to raise! Oh, wait. Yes, I did! So those meals in the freezer will be a very welcome help.
In the midst of planning my freezer meal extravaganza last night, I was assessing the contents of my pantry. I was mentally clicking through my recipes to see what I needed to purchase when something suddenly registered in my mind: I have graham cracker crumbs. And sweetened condensed milk. And coconut. And chocolate chips. And pecans. I can make Magic Cookie Bars!!
Oh, Magic Cookie Bars! Those too-easy-to-believe-it dessert bars that look amazing and taste delicious. Of course, I can never leave a good recipe alone. I have to add extra stuff to it. I dug in the pantry a little more and found a bag of Heath toffee bits and a bag of Reese’s Minis. Yes! Here we go!
Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars
- 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of salted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
- 8-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup of chocolate chips
- 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup of Heath toffee bits
- 1 cup of Reese’s Minis
- 1 cup of chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix butter, graham cracker crumbs, and 1/2 cup of pecans. Pour into the baking dish and use your hands or a flat spatula to press the mixture into the pan, edge to edge.
Use a can opener to open the can of sweetened condensed milk. Pour milk over the graham cracker crust, using a spoon or rubber spatula to get everything out of the can. Make sure the milk completely covers the crust.
In a large bowl, combine the chocolate chips, coconut flakes, toffee bits, Reese’s Minis, and 1 cup of chopped pecans. Pour evenly over the condensed milk and use your hands to press down slightly.
Bake for 25 minutes or until coconut is golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool COMPLETELY before cutting into squares.
Well Duh #1: Be sure to use sweetened condensed milk and NOT evaporated milk. In my house, we call sweetened condensed milk “Eagle Brand” regardless of the brand on the can.
Well Duh #2: If you’re impatient about cutting them (like I was), put the pan in the refrigerator to cool faster. You just want to be sure it’s completely cooled before you cut it or you’ll have a big mess on your hands.
Well Duh #3: The original recipe called for layering each ingredient into the dish. I prefer to mix the ingredients together and then pour them on.
I don’t make these very often – for obvious reasons. They are decadent! One square is definitely enough. The condensed milk caramelizes and the chocolate melts and everything sticks together in the most delicious way. They are chewy and sweet and fantastic. Each ingredient has a different texture. The toffee bits and peanut butter cups add a little salt to the sweet.
They are pretty much perfect.
After I made them last night, I cut everybody a square and then hid the rest. I’m not even going to tell you where I hid them. It’s a secret. I’ll just let my family think they disappeared.
After all, they are Magic Cookie Bars!