Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars

Soft-baked graham cracker cookie bars with butterscotch, coconut, chocolate, and pecans. An ultimate version of the classic magic bar/hello dolly bar.

Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars with butterscotch, chocolate, and coconut! Get the recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

Welcome to Day 7 of Sally’s Cookie Palooza! So are you sick of cookies ye…

Ha! I can’t even finish typing that sentence. Of course you aren’t.

Well, we actually are taking a short break from cookies today. Cookie bars are on the menu and you’re absolutely going to love them.

Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars with butterscotch, chocolate, and coconut! Get the recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

Traditional Magic Bars, also known as Hello Dolly Bars or 7 Layer Bars, are a layered dessert bar with a crumbly graham cracker crust, then topped with layers of butterscotch, coconut, chocolate, and nuts. Everything sticks together from gooey sweetened condensed milk that caramelizes on top when baked.

In short… magic bars are everything you love all in one.

And today? I made them even better. That’s right. I went off the beaten path and made a traditional magic cookie bar… thicker, softer, overloaded, and downright ultimate!

You’re welcome.

Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars with butterscotch, chocolate, and coconut! Get the recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

So here’s what you’re going to do.

  • Stop what you’re doing right now and start preheating your oven.
  • Don’t make a graham cracker crust. Make a graham cracker butterscotch cookie crust.
  • Layer that cookie crust with chocolate, coconut, and pecans.
  • Flood the glorious layers with sweetened condensed milk.

Oh I can’t even handle it!

Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars with butterscotch, chocolate, and coconut! Get the recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

So… the crust. It might just be my favorite part about this recipe. It’s like a thick graham cracker with a super soft texture. If you’re anything like me, you crumble graham crackers up into your yogurt. No? Just me?

You’ll make the same graham cracker cookie bar that you made here. (Have you made those? Do it.) Add some butterscotch chips to it and pre-bake it for a quick 5 minutes while you get the other ingredients ready.

On top of the pre-baked crust, layer 1 cup chocolate chips, 3/4 cup shredded coconut, and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Guess what? You can play around with those amounts. Love coconut? Add a little more. Don’t like nuts? Leave them out and replace with more chocolate chips or coconut. There is plenty of room to play around with the toppings. Have fun with it! Kevin even suggested peanut butter cups next time. I knew I was marrying this man for a reason.

Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars with butterscotch, chocolate, and coconut! Get the recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

Top with 8 ounces of sweetened condensed milk, which is a little more than half of a standard 14 oz can. Before baking, I threw some extra butterscotch chips on top. I am a fool for butterscotch, aren’t you?

Once the cookie bars are done in the oven, you have to let them cool. Now if you’re self control has never been tested before… it will be tested now. If you cut into the bars too early, the layers will fall apart and you’ll be left with a gooey mess. Which, umm… still tastes quite good if you ask me.

But seriously. Let the bars cool. Since I have zero patience, I sped up the process and stuck them in the refrigerator after 30 minutes of cooling on the counter. I suggest you do the same. The sooner you can dig in!

Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars with butterscotch, chocolate, and coconut! Get the recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

They’re soft, they’re thick, they’re chewy, they’re ultimate! Layers upon layers of goodness. So many darn tastes and textures. Your tastebuds will be in heaven. They’ll be the star of any dessert platter!

So what did we do with these bad boys? After sampling quite a few after the photo shoot, Kevin’s friend came over to visit. (I’m beginning to think that his friends come over just for the baked goods we always have around.) We sent him off with the rest of these ultimate cookie bars. I received a text shortly after.

“These won’t last the whole car ride.”

Yeah, I hear ya Dave. I hear ya.

Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars with butterscotch, chocolate, and coconut! Get the recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

Look at how they’re made and start some ultimate baking!

Print

Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 16 bars
  • Category: Bars
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Soft-baked graham cracker cookie bars with butterscotch, coconut, chocolate, and pecans. An ultimate version of the classic magic bar/hello dolly bar.


Ingredients

Bars

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 cup (100g) graham cracker crumbs (9 graham crackers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (175g) butterscotch chips

Layers

  • 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini, but regular size is OK)
  • 3/4 cup (50-60g) shredded sweetened coconut*
  • 1/2 cup (70g) chopped pecans*
  • 8 ounces sweetened condensed milk (not the full can)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on the sides. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using handheld or stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed. Beat for about 2 minutes until smooth and combined. Add the vanilla extract and egg, beating until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl down as needed.
  3. Add the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low, slowly mix until combined, then beat in the butterscotch chips. Press graham cracker dough into the prepared baking pan and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and layer with chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk evenly on top. (Remember, not the full can. 8 ounces is a little more than 1/2 of a 14 ounce standard can.) I sprinkled a couple more butterscotch chips on top, but that’s optional.
  4. Bake the bars until set, about 30 minutes. I loosely covered the pan with aluminum foil halfway through baking to prevent browning. Make sure you rotate the pan a couple times during the bake time as well. Allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature and then stick in the refrigerator to cool all the way through. Once the bottom of the pan is cold, you may cut the bars into squares.
  5. Bars stay fresh at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Bars can be frozen for up to 3 months– thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  2. Coconut: Different brands of coconut weigh different amounts. I used store-brand sweetened shredded and 3/4 cup was 55g.
  3. Pecans: If you don’t like nuts, leave them out! Replace with more butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, or coconut. Play around with the amounts of add-ins you like. These bars are very forgiving.

Keywords: magic cookie bars, ultimate magic cookie bars

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128 Comments

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  1. I love how moist these bars look — They look as though they truly live up to their name: Ultimate!! I can only imagine how amazing they would be with cold milk 😀

  2. This was one of the sweet treats my dad made every Christmas. As a child…the smell of the graham cracker crust browning…oh my word. I always would wait for the dregs left in the condensed milk can…yummm! Thanks so much for the memory.

    1. Perfect. My mom made these for us when we were little too. Around the holidays every other year or so.

  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks says:

    We’re always on the same wavelength with our recipes! I hadn’t had a magic-ish bar recipe in a couple years and of course, we have them within days of each other! I love love love magic bars. Like, they are my THING! The flavors of butterscotch, sweetened cond milk (or dulce de leche) are just the best things ever! I love that yours are ultimate. Piled up with all the good stuff! Mmmm 🙂

  4. Cate @ Chez CateyLou says:

    Of course I’m not sick of cookies yet – definitely not possible! I am loving all your recipes, and these bars are no exception. They look soooo good! So many amazing flavors packed into one bar – no wonder they are called magic

    1. I totally agree. Completely… magical. 😉

  5. OOooo, my Nana used to make 7 Layer Bars and boy oh boy I have been craving one all year! (yes, year!) I love the butterscotch graham cracker crust…maybe I will try these in January when my office coworkers are out of sugar comas and ready for some baked goods again. Otherwise I’ll attempt to eat them all!

    And no, I am not sick of cookie-palooza…I have been loving it! 🙂

    1. Sugar coma. I think I’m headed into one right about now Christine! Only 1 week until Christmas and I’m baking up a storm. The butterscotch graham crust is the best part if you ask me!

  6. I don’t know how you can make magic bars even better but thank goodness you did!! They are totally my weakness!!

  7. Layla @ Brunch Time Baker says:

    I love coconut desserts! These bars looks fantastic sally!

  8. I love that you made the crust into cookie crust! So smart and, I would imagine, so much more soft and indulgent. Yum! And Kevin’s idea is brilliant (can you imagine it with a peanut butter cookie crust)! I’m guessing you already have a magic bar with reese’s idea planned out in your mind. Can’t wait! 😉

    1. OH Erin. This is why I love you. A peanut butter cookie crust. YES!

  9. I didn’t know hello dollies could get any better! these look absolutely delicious. I can’t find graham crackers in Switzerland, so I’m going to have to think of something to swap in so I can make these asap 🙂

    1. Hey Caitlin! You can make a regular cookie bar instead of the graham cracker bar. How about you use this cookie recipe and add butterscotch chips instead of chocolate chips. This will be your crust. Prebake for 5 minutes as directed here and then layer on the goodies in this recipe. https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/05/13/chewy-chocolate-chunk-cookies/

  10. OMG! I am soooo making these this holiday season (which is almost over . . . WHERE did it go???)
    It sounds like a glorious twist on the traditional recipe, and I can’t wait to taste it! I haven’t been able to visit you much lately, Sally, hope all has been well with you!

    1. I can’t believe Christmas is only 1 week away – crazy isn’t it Val?

  11. I love 7 layer bars. It’s like everything delicious all in one smothered in sugary milk! Cannot go wrong there!

  12. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness says:

    Oh my goodness, I thought I was finally done all my Christmas baking! I have actually never had a magic bar. Clearly I am missing out on the meaning of life. Chocolate, coconut, pecans, butterscotch….so much goodness. Need these in my face!

    1. Taylor! You must must must make a magic bar – even if you don’t necessarily make this recipe. You have to. Beyond good!

  13. Katrina @ WVS says:

    These definitely ARE the ultimate!! LOVE!

  14. Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl says:

    There is definite magic in these bars!

  15. Yum, these look spectacular, Sally! I love how the crust is SO thick in these bars…it’s almost the main event!
    Beautiful, delicious-looking shots as usual. 🙂

    1. The crust was my favorite part, Ikhlas. 🙂

  16. Oh, girl….. you are killin’ me. (And doing a fair number on my diet, too.) I LOVE 7-Layer Bars, and have made lots of interesting variations over the years. A fave might be the ones I subbed in raspberry jam, sliced almonds, and white chocolate chips for the regular chips and nuts. And now I need to try out your crusty inspiration! Never mind that I have gifts to wrap and a house to clean! Hooray for cookie palooza!
    Happy holidays!

    1. Leslie! That raspberry white chocolate layer bar sounds out of this world! I actually think I may have to try it. It would be a wonderful Valentine’s day treat or something. Happy Holidays to you!

  17. Now that’s what I’m talking about!! These sound FABULOUS!!!!!!

  18. I love butterscotch so much, and I am CRAZY about graham-cracker crusts, so this sounds like an amazing combination! I think I would use those little Kraft caramel bits instead of nuts…or maybe Mallo bits (like Lucky Charms marshmallows, but just little white cylinders)…or maybe Heath Pieces! Have you heard of those? They are new…like all the other Pieces varieties, but they are like m&m’s with chunks of Heath toffee in the chocolate and candy coating. YUM!!! 😀

  19. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says:

    mmmmmm YES! I love how you’ve amped these up, sooo delectable!

  20. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I even crush up grahams on top of frozen yogurt too. So good!

  21. Happy Holidays to you as well Georgia. I know they are extra happy for you two this year. 🙂 Congrats again!

  22. Wow, these look like pure heaven. I have actually been waiting for you to bring out another layer bar recipe because they are my absolute favorite. However, being that this whole pan totals to around 5800 calories (and I would eat the whole pan) I may try to “health” these up a bit with some subs!

    1. Haha! Yes, these certainly are dessert. And eating the entire pan would give you an awful stomach ache! They’re quite heavy too, so sometimes I cut them extra small to yield about 24 bars since they are so rich.

  23. I made these the other night and they are so amazingly good. I will definitely use graham cracker cake/crust for other stuff. I’m so glad I found this site!

    1. I love this cookie crust! Thanks D, happy you love them.

  24. Okay so I finally made these and WOW…I think I found my favorite recipe of yours 🙂 I was going to try and make them healthier but….yeah…no…I actually ended up using nearly twice as much sweetened condensed milk AND I may have sprinkled a few more than “a few” extra chocolate chips on top. I have been making Eagle’s magic bars for quite a while but these outshine them completely. If I gain 5lbs from something, I want them to be from THESE 🙂

    1. There’s no room to make these healthy. It’s fantastic to splurge every once in a while, right?! So happy you made and love them Melissa! Thank you.

  25. So I made these for Christmas, and let me tell you, my entire family was CRAZY over them!! (I’m in high school btw) my mom especially liked them and I’m surprised because she doesn’t usually like indulging on sweet things, but she loves these. Too bad I thew away the rest of my sweetened condensed milk because I didn’t think I’d be needing it soon. Or maybe it’s a good thing because I would have definitely made these again. SO DELICIOUS!! I still have one square left and it’s definitely not eating clean safe haha

    1. Hey Jess! I am thrilled you all loved these magic bars! It’s truly one of my favorite recipes. Hope you can make them again soon!

  26. Hey Sally!
    I made these with the regular graham crust..(crumbs and butter) .during the baking process, the condensed milk seemed to somehow get under the crust in places…and made a gooey mess…also, when the edges were done, the middle was not, so by the time the middle was done, the edges were hard and I had to cut them away…
    I have to make another batch for tomorrow’s NY Eve party, so I would appreciate your help asap.
    Help!! Where did I go wrong??

    1. Hi Shelley – I advise you to make the recipe as written with the thick style cookie crust.

  27. Hi Sally, I made a thick crust as per your pictures..Any idea Why would the edges be overdone in order for the middle to be done? Would the rack position play a part?
    Thanks

    1. Is your oven rack positioned in the center? I would also check your oven temperature. You may also loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil midway through baking to ensure the bars bake evenly.

  28. I recently made the magic cookie bars but my recipe said to pour the sweetened condensed milk on top of the graham crust then add the toppings. When I did that some of the condensed milk bubbled through to the top and went golden brown and gooey. Since your recipe says to pour the sweetened condensed milk on top of everything does it brown and bubble? How come the tops of yours looks so perfect!? Do you just add more toppings on top or does the condensed milk settle down?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Elyse – yep, the sweetened condensed milk sinks into the layers and lightly bubbles on top. I never pour it directly onto the crust, for fear that it would turn soggy.

      1. Ok great, good to know! I’ve never had it turn soggy but it just seems to sneak through the other layers and wrecks the look of the over all product. I’ll have to try your method. Thanks!

  29. Sally, you have done it again!! I love everything I make on your site but these take the cake (so to speak)! I’ve always loved Magic Bars but they didn’t seem thick enough and your crust in this recipe took it to the next level!! Keep up the great work and I can’t wait to see what you have next 🙂
    Blessings,
    Susan

    1. Woohoo! Happy you love these Susan. This cookie crust is super thick. And that’s why I love these much more than original magic cookie bars. Thanks for reporting back!

  30. I am guessing we should spray or butter the foil lining of the pan before we put all these gorgeous, gooey, magnificent ingredients in, right? Can you double the recipe and bake in a 9 x 13? If you were to substitute the aforementioned raspberry jam and white chocolate chips, would you still include butterscotch in the crust? Thanks for all the glorious recipes! I just love your site!

    1. Hey Liz, if I were to make these with some rasp jam and white chocolate – I would not keep the butterscotch chips in the crust. I do not know the exact baking time for a 9×13 pan (for which you would double the recipe, yes). About 45 minutes, maybe a little more.

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