Hello dolly: where have you been all my life?

Every family has its own food traditions. There are the recipes to mark holidays or other special occasions: Aunt So-and-So’s Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, Grandma’s Christmas rum cake or Mom’s double-decker chocolate on chocolate birthday cake. And then there are the recipes to mark the everyday: the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in your lunch, the brownies waiting on the counter after school or the weekly apple crisp at dinner (OK, maybe that last one was just my family).

Let me introduce you, as R. did me, to an Abbott family food institution: Magic Cookie Bar meet your blog-reading public.

The Magic Cookie Bar is a thin bar cookie composed of a graham cracker crumb base topped with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, sweetened coconut and (sometimes) nuts (depending on the intended consumer(s)). The magic, I presume, lies in the fact that it is prepared entirely in the pan in which it is baked.

I was interested to discover that Magic Cookie Bar is on the radar of many North American families (mine excluded), sometimes disguised under such pseudonyms as Magic Bar or Hello Dolly Bar.

Magic Cookie Bar

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup nuts
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt margarine in a 9”x13” baking pan. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly on top. Sprinkle nuts, then chocolate chips, then coconut on top of the graham cracker crumb base. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly on top of coconut.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and cool in pan.

Magic Cookie Bar is quite tasty just as it is and some people might question messing with a good thing. But luckily I’m not one of them. For the chocolate and peanut fans of the world, I present you with a new twist on an old favourite.

Magic Cookie Bar à la Casual Baker

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and Oreo cookie crumbs. Press mixture into a 9” square pan (I used glass).

In another bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter. You may need to microwave the peanut butter slightly if it is too hard to stir. Pour this mixture over the crumb base.

Sprinkle chocolate chips, peanuts and coconut on top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the coconut browns. You may want to broil the square at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes at the end to ensure even browning on top. Remove from oven and cool in pan.

Notes: In the future, I would either add another tablespoon of peanut butter to the sweetened condensed milk or use half semi-sweet chocolate chips and half peanut butter chips to increase the peanut factor in this recipe.

I used a square baking pan to create a thicker bar but, in the process, may have sacrificed the square’s stability (especially when it’s fresh from the oven). I highly recommend waiting until it has cooled completely before attempting any cutting.