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

stack of 2 ultimate magic cookie bars

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

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.

cookie palooza logo image

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 on a white plate

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 traditional graham cracker crust (although that one sure is delicious!). 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 in a baking pan lined with foil

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 for these s’mores cookie bars. (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.

stack of ultimate magic cookie bars on a white plate

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? I mean, have you tried my brown sugar butterscotch cupcakes?

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 cut into squares

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 a bite taken from one

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

Print
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stack of 2 ultimate magic cookie bars

Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 16 bars 1x
  • 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

Scale

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

See more cookie palooza recipes!

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I mixed Graham crackers with Oreo ceral crumbs and it was yummy .

  2. I can’t stand coconut. Is there anything you would suggest as a substitute?

  3. Hi Sally,
    I am looking to make your Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars. They look Awesome! Can I double the recipe and make it in a 9×13 pan?
    Thank you and God bless,
    Brenda

  4. Hi again Sally,
    In making these in a 9×13 pan do I increase the bake time on the crust from 5 to 10 minutes and then the entire bake time from 30 mins to 60 mins? Thank you once again and God bless,
    Brenda

    1. Hi Brenda! You can pre-bake the crust for a little longer if doubling the recipe– 10 minutes is great. The bake time with the toppings wouldn’t double, but it will be a few minutes longer than 30 minutes.

  5. Hi Sally, doubled the recipe and Oh My Good Lord, these are THEEE BEST squares I have ever tasted in my life!!! Serious addiction could be happening here…lol
    Thank you for coming up with these! Delicious!!!

  6. Hello Sally. I really enjoy your books and fun delicious recipes. When I make 7 layer bars I use a chocolate Graham crust (teddy bear grahams). It really makes them more flavorful.
    Everything needs a little extra chocolate.

  7. I have made this recipe numerous times, it’s my go to for satisfying a sweet tooth. I always cut them in a shareable size so many people get a taste and everyone loves them. Where I’m from we called these “7 Layer Bars” but by any other name, they are just as delicious!

  8. Hi Mrs. Sally. Somehow I stumbled onto your site and I’ve been loving it and baking ever since. Today I tried this recipe but I changed the toppings. I don’t eat coconut or pecans so I did crushed Oreos and white chocolate chip along with the semi sweet chocolate chips. I think I probably should have baked it a little longer, but my husband loves it just like it is. It taste good, almost like a ooey gooey cake.

  9. Wow are these decadent! Made them for a desert potluck at work and they were a hit! Since this recipe is meant to be customized I used toffee bits in the crust, don’t care for butterscotch and snuck a 1/2 cup golden flax seeds and 1/2 cup oatmeal in the crust. Otherwise followed the recipe as written. The only problem with this recipe is how long you have to wait to eat them. Love the extra thick buttery cookie right up to the chewy caramelly top. My favorite is the corner where it almost burnt onto the pan…use parchment paper. I make a ton of your recipes! The coconut cake got me here and I just keep coming back!

  10. Hi Sally,
    I can’t get Graham’s where I live but I do have McVites digestives- will this work? What changes should I make?
    Btw, am amazed at how well you manage your blog n all that goes with it. Hats off to you- you’re brilliant!

    1. Thanks Shanta! I appreciate that. You can use digestive biscuits. You need the same amount of crumbs. (1 cup)

  11. I’ve made many versions of these magic bars over the years. I’ve always tried to get them to turn out like the ones sold at the coffee shop I worked at as a teen. This is the perfect recipe! The chewy graham & butterscotch cookie layer is substantial enough to hold all the layers of toppings. Solid, but soft…No more crumbly, easily broken cookie bars. Thank you so much for posting!

  12. Oh my goodness, made a batch of these this morning, they are so decadent. What a fabulous recipe.
    I added cherries and apricots as I didnt have any pecans.
    These are not going to last long as my husband keeps eating them.

  13. Making these now and very excited! I would suggest one thing – maybe edit the recipe to note that the 8 oz. of sweetened condensed milk is by weight, not volume. Scrolling back up through the blog post I see you clarified, but I very nearly drowned my bars with extra milk before I thought to double-check. Just want to avoid any disasters for someone who looks only at the recipe! Can’t wait to taste them

    1. I just happened to have made sweetened condensed milk, I accidentally bought too much milk and made a big batch of the sweetened condensed milk to freeze and bake with. I didnt realize that the volume wasnt the same as the recipe until after they came out of the oven. Then I saw this comment and it makes so much sense! I learned something! I really needed 5 oz of it by volume and I did 8, oops! Its for Christmas gifts so my family is enjoying the mistake, and Im just going to make them again. At least they were easy enough and no one is complaining about having to eat an extra batch of cookies!

  14. Sally, how long in the fridge does it take for these to firm up? I made two 9X13 pans. Thanks. It will be very helpful to know how.

    1. Hi Kathleen, Larger pans will take longer to cool. I would check them after a couple of hours – once the bottom of the pan is cold, you may cut the bars into squares.

  15. Can always count on you to make the best version of whatever classic treat I’m craving. I’ve made hello dollies using other recipes; but yours was a total upgrade as usual. This crust is insane, and I love all the textures. My hubs thought they were overly sweet which made me think about putting some salty on these next time- like pretzels or something. But why mess with perfection? These are SO delish.

  16. These turned out really good. I’ve always made “7-layer bars”, as we always have called them, which of course uses a basic graham cracker and butter crust. I was curious about the cookie crust in this recipe and I think it was worth the little bit of extra effort, as it holds up well as a yummy base for all the topings. I doubled the recipe, used a 9×13 inch baking dish, did the initial bake for about 15-20 minutes, and the final bake for about 40-45 minutes. I also didn’t realize I only had one can of condensed milk, so used part of a can of the Carnation caramel, and they came out great!

    I will definitely make these again. Sally, your recipes never fail!

  17. Please, what measurement is 8 oz. of sweetened condensed milk?

    1. Hi Nancy, It would be equivalent to 1 cup.

  18. Hi Sally! What happened to the peanut butter s’more magic bar recipe?! I make them every year to kick off the start of summer and was so bummed last week when I couldn’t find your recipe anywhere!! They are a huge hit with my family. Please bring the recipe back

    1. Hi Jess! We recently removed that older recipe from the site, but if you send us an email at sally@sallysbakingaddiction.com, we’d be happy to share a copy with you.