Oh yes...now THESE are special! These cookie bars are classics. Also known as 7-layer bars apparently - although I don't use 7 layers - but hey you call them what you want. I say...they are MAGIC!
They have a basic graham cracker base using graham crumbs and butter. Bake that layer first and then cool it while you gather your other items. The other toppings - other than the coconut and sweetened condensed milk - can be changed as your cravings/occasions call for.
I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, a handful of white chocolate chips, a handful of peanut butter chips, and toasted/chopped walnuts. But I can easily see dried cranberries, pistachios and dark chocolate chips on a Christmas platter or peanut butter chips, pecans, chocolate chips and crushed pretzels here. It's truly as many layers of sweet fun as you desire. And simply using chocolate chips only would suffice just as well.
The first important thing to keep in mind is to toast the coconut. It isn't toasted before it goes on the bar. I found that the bar was ready to come out of the oven and nicely browned around the edges, yet sorely lacking in toastiness...that's a word. So I simply turned the oven off and turned the broiler on low and left it in (on the middle rack) for an extra minute or two until perfectly browned.
The second important thing is cool the bar completely so the base sets. And press it down really well in the pan before baking. It's a thin base and you want it to hold together. This recipe calls for a 9x13 pan, but you can also use the same amount of recipe and make it in a 9x9 and just have a thicker crust in the end. Remember that you can cut more slices out of a 9x13 though.
Have fun with this recipe and let me know how you like it!
Magic Cookie Bar
3/4 cup melted butter
2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
(see above notes on other options for toppings)
Prep 9x13 pan with parchment paper with overhang for easy removal
Preheat oven to 325°F
In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Add graham crumbs to melted butter and stir.
Press the graham mixture into prepped pan. Press down with spatula or cup til firm and even.
Bake for 10 minutes to set it and set aside to cool.
Gather whichever toppings you desire. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts on in a nice even layer over cooled crust. Layer the coconut on after that. Cover the coconut completely with sweetened condensed milk. I used a disposable piping bag to drizzle the milk evenly all over the top.
Let the pan sit for a few minutes before popping it in the oven so the milk can settle in all the crannies.
Bake for up to a half hour. Watch your coconut. You want nice even colour all over the top. If after a half hour it is still not fully browned (colour is flavour after all)...turn the broiler on your oven and finish it off that way. It works really well - really fast! So don't walk away and burn it. Nice and toasty is all you need.
Take it out and let it cool in the pan. It needs to cool 100% before slicing if you want the base to hold together.