Holiday Cookies – Magic Bars

This recipe started with a book I wrote recently about cookies. While conducting research, I came across this recipe for Magic Bars.

Magic BarsMagic bars are one of those things I know I must have had at some point, but don’t specifically remember when or where. Still the combination of such great flavors — a Graham cracker crust, chocolate and butterscotch chips, and coconut — sounded, well, magical.

The minute I read it, I knew I had to make it. Then, like most things that inspire me, I completely forgot about it.

Until this weekend, when Sandi and I found ourselves at Trader Joe’s doing some holiday shopping. TJ’s has a surprisingly diverse and affordable wine offering and this year’s gift giving is all about wine.

I came across a package of coconut flakes and instantly recalled that I wanted to make Magic Bars.

Flash forward to later that afternoon, and these temptingly delicious and easy-to-make cookies were cooling on my stovetop.

It’s a testament to how delicious these Magic Bars were that Sandi made sure I gave them away as quickly as possible. I don’t think she wanted the temptation of of these super-sweet cookie bars hanging around for a moment longer than they had to.

For the remainder of the weekend, Sandi was recommending people who would really like these cookies. She herself admitted that they were pretty darn good, even though she “doesn’t like coconut.”

Coconut is one of those divisive ingredients that turns the world into a black and white place. There are those people who like coconut and those who don’t.

In other words, you are either an Almond Joy person or a Mounds person.

Personally, I don’t like coconut, either. I would always choose Ho-Hos over Snowballs, and I don’t like Pina Coladas (or getting caught in the rain, for that matter).

But coconut tasted incredible on these cookies, possibly because it was toasted during the baking process. More likely, however, it was because the coconut was swimming in the sickeningly sweet condensed milk.

By Sunday night, nearly all of the Magic Bars had magically disappeared, having been packed off with anybody and everybody who showed even the slightest interest in them.

Magic Bars

1-1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs

1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted

14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 cup Butterscotch Chips

1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1-1/3 cup Coconut Flakes

1 cup Walnuts, chopped

0271. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 13″x9″ baking pan with aluminum foil, including the sides. Spray the foil with pay spray.

2. Combine the melted butter with the Graham crackers and mix well then press into the bottom of the baking pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts and coconut even over the crust. Pour the condensed milk even over the top of everything.

3. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in the pan. Life up the edges of the foil to remove the Magic Bars from the pan. Cut into squares and lift each cookie off the foil.

By Monday morning, they were all gone!

Advertisement

Holiday Cookies – Pecan Sandies

Well, my intention was to start a new series featuring different holiday cookie recipes. But seeing as that it’s already less than two weeks until Christmas, that idea is pretty much shot. At least for this year.

019Unfortunately, my ambition got ahead of my common sense, so my cupboard is stuffed with cookie ingredients such as butterscotch chips, different kinds of nuts and sprinkles.

My enthusiasm also was dampened after one of my experiments failed: I thought I would make those peanut butter cookies that have the Hershey kiss stuck in the middle, but all I had were those red and white swirled candy cane flavored kisses.

Take my advice: Don’t ever try this. Peanut butter and candy canes don’t go together! Plus, the candy cane kisses have much lower melting temperature than the chocolate kisses, so it ended up being kind of a red and white striped blob.

Every year, I forget how busy December gets. There are so many things going: Holiday shopping, parties, other obligations. Plus, work always seems to pick up just when you the other parts of your life require more attention.

That’s why many people set aside one day or a weekend to cook all of their holiday cookies, rather than making a batch here and a batch there. I should try that next year.

At least this recipe for pecan sandies has the benefit of  being fast and easy. It’s basically a butter cookie recipe with chopped pecans added in. And I stuck an uncut pecan peice in the middle for decoration.

Unlike the peppermint kisses disaster, they were delicious.

Pecan Sandies

1 stick unsalted butter

1/3 cup Powdered Sugar

2 TBS Light Brown Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

3/8 tsp Sea Salt

1 cup plus 2 TBS All-Purpose Flour

1/2 cup Toasted Pecans, chopped medium fine

Plus a few Pecan peices for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Using a Kitchen Aid or hand blender, cream the butter and sugars together until smooth. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Then slowly add the flour and pecans and mix on low until a stiff dough is formed.

2. Using a melon baller or just two teaspoons, scoop the dough into a ball and place on an greased baking pan.

3. Dip the bottom of a glass in flour then use it to flatten out the cookies. Stick the pecan garnish in the middle of each cookie and bake about 15 minutes or until the cookies are set and just starting to brown on the sides.

Cool the cookies completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. This recipe makes about 24 cookies.