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Kitchen Collage IV
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Pope, Katherine &...
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Kriesel, Johanna
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Bonfatti, L.
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Magic

A Tried-and-True 1930's American Classic

by Lisa Yockelson
Chocolatier February/March 1996

“Layered bar cookies have long been favorites in American baking because
of their ease in preparation and the many varied combinations that they offer
to both the novice and the experienced baker.
In this category, the ‘Magic Cookie Bar,’ also known as the ‘Hello Dolly’, is
undeniably one of the most popular. This bar is traditionally composed of a
graham cracker crust to which layers of condensed milk, chocolate chips, coco-
nut and chopped nuts are added and then baked in a pan. Magic bars are ever-present staples in holiday cookie tins and almost always make an appearance
at community bake sales.
Borden's ‘Five-Way Cookies’ serve as the precursor to the emergence of ‘Magic Cookie Bars’ in the mid-1930's. In the ‘five-way’ variety, the baker would blend sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter with one other ingredient (choosing from the following; raisins, coconut, corn flakes, bran flakes or chopped nuts)
and would prepare them as baked drop cookies. ‘Five-Way Cookies’ evolved to
‘Magic Six-Way Cookies’ in the late-1930's when chopped dates were added as
the sixth ingredient choice.
The time-honored recipe for ‘Magic Cookie Bars’ appeared in 1969, and this
marked a new phase in the creation of this cookie - the technique of layering
all of the ingredients atop one another in a baking pan.
For years, bakers have created their own versions of this delectable sweet,
which is as much cookie as it is a confection. The creative possibilities are
endless when you consider the variety of products available on the market
today. These products include chocolate in the form of chips or bars, nuts
(plain, flavored or glazed in a candy-like coating) and crumbs (the classic
graham cracker in addition to chocolate, vanilla and spice cookie crumbs),
all of which can be innovatively combined with the one constant in a Magic
Bar: a can of sweetened condensed milk.
These chewy, layered wonders are one of the simplest desserts to prepare and
one of the tastiest. They are superb served with a glass of ice-cold milk or a
hot cup of coffee. A great way for kids and grown-ups to share some Magic.”

 

Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter [1 stick]
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
A 14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
A 3 1/2-ounce can flaked coconut (1 1/3 cups)
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, melt
butter in oven.  Sprinkle crumbs over butter; pour Eagle Brand Milk
over crumbs. Top with remaining ingredients; press down firmly.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill if desired.
Cut into bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
Makes 24 to 36 Bars.

 

Black and White Squares

Bar Cookies:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups plus 3 1/2 tablespoons chocolate
sandwich cookie crumbs, such as crumbs
made from Nabisco Oreos
1 1/4 sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups walnut pieces
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze:
A 3-ounce bar bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-by-9-by-2-inch
baking pan with non-stick spray.
2. Pour the melted butter in the pan and tilt to coat the surface. Scatter
the chocolate cookie crumbs in a uniform layer; press down lightly
so that the butter is absorbed into all of the crumbs. Sprinkle over
the shredded coconut, then the semisweet chocolate chips. Top with
the white chocolate chips. Scatter on the walnuts, and lightly press
down the nuts with a firm metal spatula or your fingertips. Pour the
sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top, taking care to drizzle
it uniformly to 1/4 inch of all four sides of the pan.
3. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until set and light golden on
top. Set the pan on a rack and cool completely.
4. Melt the bittersweet chocolate. Drizzle the melted chocolate ran-
domly over the top of the baked cookie. Let stand for 2 to 3
hours, or refrigerate (if your kitchen is quite warm), until the
chocolate topping is completely set and firm.
5. Cut into squares, using a small, sharp knife. Store the squares
in an airtight tin, preferably in one layer, or with wax paper
separating each layer. Yield: 16 squares.

 

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Chip Bars

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups plus 3 1/2 tablespoons chocolate graham
cracker crumbs, such as crumbs made from
Keebler's Chocolate Grahams
1 1/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips
1 1/4 cups roasted skinless, unsalted peanuts *
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

* Note: If you love the contrast of salty and sweet in baked goods,
use lightly salted roasted peanuts in place of the unsalted variety

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-by-9-by-2-inch
baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Pour the melted butter in the pan and swirl it around to cover the surface evenly.  Scatter the chocolate graham cracker crumbs in
a uniform layer; press down lightly so that the butter is absorbed
into all of the crumbs. Sprinkle over the coconut. Scatter over the
peanut butter chips, then layer on the peanuts. Lightly press the
top of the peanuts, using a small metal spatula or your fingertips.
Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top, taking
care to drizzle it uniformly to 1/4 inch of all four sides of the pan.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until set and light golden on top. Set the
pan on a rack and cool completely. Cut into squares, using a
small, sharp knife. Store the squares in an airtight tin, with wax
paper separating each layer. Yield:  32 Bars.

 

Glazed Macadamia Nut-Bittersweet
Chocolate-Coconut Squares

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs, such as crumbs
made from Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
1 1/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Two 3-ounce bars bittersweet chocolate, such as
Lindt Excellence, or Tobler Tradition, chopped
1 1/3 cups Coconut-Candy Glazed Macadamia Nuts
(or substitute whole roasted nuts) *
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

* Coconut Candy-Glazed Macadamia Nuts (as well as Kona Coffee-Glazed Macadamia Nuts) are available by mail order from Mauna Loa, Mainland
Gift Center, 6523 North Galena Road,  P.O. Box 1772, Peoria, IL 61656,
or call 800-832-9993, or FAX 1-309-689-3893. [Please note that this
information is not current and may not be accurate.]

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-by-9-by-2-inch
baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Pour the melted butter in the pan and swirl it around to cover the surface evenly. Scatter the chocolate cookie crumbs in a uniform
layer; press down lightly so that the butter is absorbed into all of
the crumbs. Sprinkle over the coconut. For the next layer, sprinkle
over the chopped bittersweet chocolate, then scatter over the maca-
damia nuts. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the
top, taking care to drizzle it uniformly to 1/4 inch of all four sides
of the pan.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until set and light golden on top. Set the
pan on a rack and cool completely. Cut into squares, using a
small, sharp knife. Store the squares in an airtight tin, with wax
paper separating each layer. Yield: 16 Bars.

 

Butterscotch-Pecan Bars
with Caramel Drizzle

Bar Cookies:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs, such as crumbs
made from Nabisco Nilla Wafers
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup butterscotch-flavored chips
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

For the caramel:
4 ounces (1/4 pound or about 13 caramels)
vanilla-flavored caramels, unwrapped,
such as Kraft caramels
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 10-by-10-by-2-inch
baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. For the bar cookies, pour the melted butter in the pan and tilt to coat the surface. Scatter the vanilla wafer crumbs in a uniform layer; press down lightly so that the butter is absorbed into all of the crumbs. Sprinkle over the coconut, then the butterscotch chips. Place the pecans in s small bowl, sprinkle over the vanilla extract and toss; spoon over the nuts in an even layer. Lightly press down on the pecan layer with the back of a small, flat spatula. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top, taking care to drizzle it uniformly to 1/4 inch of all four sides of
the pan.

3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until set and light golden on top. Set the pan
on a rack and cool completely.

4. For the caramel drizzle, place the unwrapped caramels and milk in a small saucepan, set over low heat and cook slowly until the caramels
have melted down completely, stirring slowly once the caramels begin to dissolve. Blend well. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

5. With a spoon, drizzle the caramel mixture over the top of the baked cookie, quickly and lightly. Let stand for 1 hour, or until completely set.
6. Cut into bars, using a small, sharp knife. Store the bars in an airtight
tin, preferably in one layer, or with wax paper separating each layer.
Yield: 32 bars.

 

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Rich Espresso Brownie Bars
 


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