Since I’m among friends I will go ahead and say that food definitely comforts me during times of stress. I see the good and the bad in that statement, but I feel like half the battle for most of us is actually realizing that connection. When I was in college, my roommate Stephanie and I would bake every chance we got, plying our friends with study treats and creating a welcome stress reliever for ourselves. Sure I enjoyed eating our baked goodies, but the act of giving them to friends was profoundly gratifying and one of the reasons I went to school to be a pastry chef.
Although I wouldn’t exactly call my college friends a discerning bunch, they definitely had their preferences. The most requested treat on the list? Magic Bars.
Magic Bars have that perfect combination of graham cracker crust, coconut and chocolate, all held together with a can of sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk adds a caramel-like flavor that makes these bar cookies impossibly addictive. In fact, I consider it hazardous to my health to be alone in a house with a pan of these things. I’m a master at cutting “slivers” of these magical treats until I’ve consumed half the pan.
Now that I’ve converted the original recipe to be gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free and nut-free it’s no different. These Magic Bars are just as good as I remember and they keep calling me back to the kitchen as long as they’re around.
- 2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (you can bake your own with my recipe here)
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (butter or vegan margarine will work too)
- 1 recipe dairy-free sweetened condensed milk (recipe here)
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
- 2 cups of your favorite chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a large bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted coconut oil. Stir with a spatula until the crumbs look like wet sand.
- Firmly press the crumb mixture into a lightly greased 9X13 baking pan.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the graham cracker crumbs. Gently tilt the pan around to distribute the condensed milk into an even layer.
- Then sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips, all of the shredded coconut. End by sprinkling the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips over the top.
- Place on center rack of oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the coconut is just beginning to turn golden and the chocolate chips are melted.
- Cool on a rack for 20 minutes and then move to the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before cutting to allow the squares to set up. When fully cool the magic bars will cut easily and neatly.