Sunday, May 5, 2013

Grampy's Magic Bars

Recognize these guys?
They were a welcome and familiar site on my grandmother's kitchen table back in the early 80's. Magic Bars. Could there be a more enticing treat for a gaggle of sweets-loving granddaughters? I think not. Grammyarta, as she was known, tended to agree.

Last week my dad, known as Grampy by many these days, celebrated his 76th birthday. Sadly, hundreds of miles away, we didn't get to spend the day with him, but we did whip him up a batch of Magic Bars. Happy birthday, Dad!
That's a good-looking 76, don't you think?!
Of course, the Magic Bars of yore were topped with chopped walnuts and sometimes, if we were really lucky, pecans. These days we avoid tree nuts here at Casa Kid Cultivation but guess what we don't avoid?

Pretzels. And pepitas. The two work together to deliver all the crunchy, salty, meaty flavor of nuts...without the nuts! So gather the troops and let the kids take the lead. This is the ultimate easy-peasy kid-friendly, grampy-approved recipe.
Grampy's Magic Bars
adapted from Eagle Brand

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 & 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2 cups chocolate chips
1 & 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pretzels
1/2 cup pepitas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 9"x13" pan with cooking spray.

Put your graham crackers (I used about 7 ounces, or 1/2 a regular-sized 14.4 ounce box) in a large zip-top bag and let the kids bang the heck out of it with a rolling pin or baseball bat until you have crumbs.
Once you have crumbs, pour the melted butter directly into the zip-top bag, reseal, and mash the butter around into the crumbs until it's all combined.
Press the butter-crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Here's a trick. If you're careful, you can dump the crumbs into the pan, turn the plastic bag inside out and, placing your hand into what used to be the outside, use the messy, buttery inside of the bag to press down the crumbs like so. 
There. I just saved you a hand washing. You're welcome.
Pour the sweetened condensed milk in an even layer over the graham crackers.
Scatter the chocolate chips over the milk.
Add the pretzels and pepitas...
Then the coconut. Did I mention this is the perfect kid-driven recipe?
Pop them in the oven for 22-25 minutes until lightly browned. 
 Let them cool then cut into bars. Send them to your dad or grampy for his birthday.
 But make sure you save a few for yourselves.


  1. Love these kind of bars - your nut switch out sounds really good, will have to try it! Growing up my mother called these bars 'mans favorite sweet'. Was, and is, pretty much right.

    1. Mans' favorite sweet indeed! I love that. I have to admit, the kids and my dad were not the only ones gobbling these up. I made sure to reserve a few for um...quality assurance. :)