Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Original Magic Bar Recipe - 7 Layer Bars with Variations

No matter how you layer them, these classic Magic Cookie Bars are addictive. Most often they are layered with a graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and sometimes butterscotch, or even a combination of them, coconut and nuts.
No matter how you layer them, these classic Magic Cookie Bars are addictive. Most often they are layered with a graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and sometimes butterscotch, or even a combination of them, coconut and nuts.

Original Magic Bar

If you Google looking for 7 Layer Bar recipes, most of what you will find are bars listing these five basic layers - though many do also add another layer of butterscotch chips - yet they all seem to count the graham crackers and butter as individual layers.  Some recipes do melt the butter, and then simply pour the graham crackers on top, rather than mixing and pressing them in, so I guess that's one way to consider them separate layers. Others layer the bars differently, adding the coconut right on top of the graham crackers, some chips and then the coconut, and pouring the sweetened condensed cream on the very top. I really don't think that the order of the layers much matters to be honest.

At any rate, this recipe is the one that I believe to be the original Magic Bar recipe, of which that 7 Layer Bar recipe was apparently birthed. Far as I know, the bars made their debut as Magic Bars on the Eagle brand condensed milk label sometime in the early 1960s, so it is another retro recipe that has been around for many years and has definitely become a holiday tradition, with a multitude of variations.

No matter how you layer them, a graham cracker and butter crust makes the first layer, topped with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, or a mixture of butterscotch and chocolate chips, a layer of coconut, finished off with pecans, and then baked. Truly, anything after that is just lagniappe for a bar that is already just dreamy. Everyone seems to layer these differently, so it can make for a sticky cookie bar. A layer of aluminum foil or parchment paper in the bottom of the pan is helpful.

I found that a lot of people know these Hello Dollies, a name that appears to have come from a 1965 magazine called "The Week" that featured a recipe submitted by young 11-year old Alecia Leigh Couch of Dallas, Texas, called Hello Dolly Cake, that contained these same basic five ingredients. Alecia said that the recipe was from her grandma, though it appears that an Oklahoma newspaper had earlier that same year, already published Hello dolly Cookies, with similar ingredients.1

The recipe is also known by a number of other names beside 7-Layer Bars, including 7-Layer Cookies, Chewy Delights, Chocolate Graham Squares, Graham Chips Squares, Washington Cookies, and of course, Magic Bars, and carries a multitude of variations now. Make the white chocolate variation with dried cranberries for Christmas and drizzle the top with raspberry jam.

I have tried a variety of other people's ways of making these, including using foil (it stuck), pouring the condensed milk over the top of everything instead of the crust (crust didn't set, completely changed the texture of the bars as they were too messy and gooey) and I just find that the way I originally made them to be the best way. They are rich, so serve in smaller cuts!

What variations do you love?

For more of my favorite cookies and bars, pop over to my Pinterest page!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!


Recipe: Original Magic Bars - 7 Layer Bars

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 25 min

Total time: 35 min
Yield: About 24 squares

  • 1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs (about 8 planks)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, melted
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1-1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; mix well. Press crumb mixture firmly on bottom of 13×9-inch baking pan. For easier removal, line the pan with foil or parchment paper.

Pour condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with remaining ingredients; press down firmly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Run a knife around the edge of the pan while still warm to loosen. Cool on a wire rack. Chill if desired to speed up firming. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Hello Dollies Variation: What makes these 7-Layer Bars and I "think" what sets apart Hello Dollies from regular Magic Bars, is the addition of 1 cup of butterscotch chips along with the 1 cup of chocolate chips. All other ingredients are the same, though in some recipes, I have noticed that the graham cracker crumbs and the coconut are reduced. Peanut butter flavored chips or white chocolate chips may also be substituted for butterscotch flavored chips.

Variations: Substitute 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips for butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, or a mixture; add 1 cup dried cranberries; substitute 2 cups chocolate covered peanuts for the chocolate chips and chopped nuts; substitute 2 cups plain M&Ms for the semisweet chocolate chips.

Great holiday idea! Use only white chocolate chips (NO semi-sweet ones), add in some dried cranberries, and drizzle the top with some thinned raspberry jam after baking.


Requires Adobe Reader - download it free!
©Deep South Dish
1Source: The Big Apple
Are you on Facebook? If you haven't already, come and join the party! We have a lot of fun & there's always room for one more at the table.
Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Caramel Bars
Old Timey Rum Balls
Mississippi Mud Bars

Posted by on December 22, 2010
Images and Full Post Content including Recipe ©Deep South Dish. Recipes are offered for your own personal use only and while pinning and sharing links is welcomed and encouraged, please do not copy and paste to repost or republish elsewhere such as other Facebook pages, blogs, websites, or forums without explicit prior permission. All rights reserved.

Material Disclosure: Unless otherwise noted, you should assume that post links to the providers of goods and services mentioned, establish an affiliate relationship and/or other material connection and that I may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You are never under any obligation to purchase anything when using my recipes and you should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Bookmark and Share
Related Posts with Thumbnails