‘Tis the season to bake! Christmas cookies and treats for gifts, cookie exchanges, holiday parties and school programs. How many Christmas cookies does it take for a busy mom to get thru the season? Way too many!
Back before kiddos, I loved to bake Christmas treats for gifts. Yummy coconut dipped in melted chocolate, crunchy buttery brittles and barks, little snowmen with marshmallow hats all decadent signs of the holiday season to come. Then the kiddos came along with little helping hands and the Christmas baking screamed to a halt.
Now I need something fast, easy and kid-friendly that produces ALOT of treats. The answer: MAGIC BARS.
Start with a parchment lined 9×13 baking dish sprayed with no-stick spray. I like the kind with flour. Making Magic Bars without a pan liner is an exercise in patience. If you do nothing else, take the time to line your pans.
A single recipe of Magic Bars fits in a 9×13 baking dish.
For a Christmas Magic Bar marathon baking day, I pull out the half sheet baking pans. Mine have seen better days.
Double the Magic Bar recipe for the half sheet baking pan. Don’t forget to line pan with parchment and spray with no-stick spray.
To make the crust, melt butter. On the stovetop or in the microwave, your choice.
Single recipe: 1/2c butter (1 stick of butter)
Double recipe: 1c butter (2 sticks of butter)
Combine the melted butter with graham cracker crumbs. You can bust out the food processor as I did and grind up graham cracker squares or you can buy a box of graham cracker crumbs. Either way, mix the butter and graham cracker crumbs together.
Single recipe: 1 1/2c graham cracker crumbs (12 graham crackers finely ground)
Double recipe: 3c graham cracker crumbs (24 graham crackers finely ground)
Pour the graham cracker/butter mixture into lined baking dish.
Press the graham cracker/butter mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. Don’t be afraid to use your fingers with this step. Word of caution, buttery fingers and cameras do not mix! Learned this the hard way.
Here we go. Pans are lined up in a row.
Now the Magic part. Pour sweetened condensed milk on top of the crust.
Single recipe: 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Double recipe: 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
It is time to get creative. Think of these as blank canvases. You cannot go wrong from here on out. Choose some of the topping combinations listed below or make up one of your own. It’s all about combining flavors.
I made 3 different flavor combinations this year. Each with variations on the toppings.
What has worked for me is 4c of toppings per recipe. Have fun with this. What are your favorite Christmas time flavors?
Single recipe: 4c toppings
Double recipe: 8c toppings
I prepped well ahead for this Christmas Magic Bar assembly line day.
To me this topping combination is the Classic Magic Bar. Chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and shredded coconut.
Single recipe: 1c chocolate chips, 1c white chocolate chips, 1c butterscotch chips, 1c shredded coconut
Double recipe: 2c chocolate chips, 2c white chocolate chips, 2c butterscotch chips, 2c shredded coconut
Sprinkle toppings in layers right on top of the sweetened condensed milk. Try to spread them out as evenly as possibly.
Or……….let the kiddos help dump the toppings in piles. Then spread them out as evenly as possible.
Oh how I love the coconut. Big piles of coconut dumped on top by a 3 year old.
That’s it and the Classic Magic Bar is ready for a preheated oven (350 degrees F).
We made Classic Magic Bars, Peppermint Magic Bars and be still my heart, Turtle Magic Bars.
Enough for dozens of Magic Bars to last the entire holiday baking season. No cookie exchange will sneak up on us!
Bake each pan at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.
If you are lucky enough to have a convection oven, bake all of the pans at once. Here at the ranch, we bake them one pan at a time.
Remove the Magic Bars from the oven, slightly cool then cut into small squares.
These bars are decadently rich so a small square is good. Small Magic Bars also fit better into gift boxes.
I cut 48 small squares in a half sheet pan (24 in the 9×13 pan).
Flash freezing is the key to make-ahead Christmas Magic Bar success.
Remove the cut squares and place on another baking sheet. It does help to line the baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick mat shown above. You do not want the bars touching at this point.
Place the Magic Bar loaded baking sheets in a freezer until just frozen. My small freezer will do this very quickly but it takes an hour or two in the chest freezer.
Once the Magic Bars are flash frozen, bag them in freezer bags separating each layer with wax paper.
That is one big pile of Christmas Magic Bars. I can grab a dozen or two for last minute, “Bring cookies to the Christmas Program” notices. They are perfect in gift boxes for teachers, instructors, school friends and helpers. Arrange platters of Magic Bars for Christmas parties and get togethers.
Neighbors, bull customers and unexpected visitors to the ranch during the Christmas season, no problem! Fill a gift box full of Magic Bars for an instant home-made gift.
This is the first time I tried Turtle Magic Bars. I am in love! The caramel takes it over the top!
Single Recipe: 1c chocolate chips, 1 1/2c caramel pieces, 1 1/2c pecans
Double recipe: 2c chocolate chips, 3c caramel pieces, 3c chopped pecans
Now if I can just STAY OUT of the Turtle Magic Bars in the freezer!
Back by popular demand are the Peppermint Magic Bars. Always a hit, the peppermint pieces are festive and colorful.
Single Recipe: 1c chocolate chips, 1c white chocolate chips, 2c peppermint pieces
Double Recipe: 2c chocolate chips, 2c white chocolate chips, 4c peppermint pieces
Merry Christmas from all of us here on the ranch! Stop by and try out the Magic Bars.