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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Baking for When it is the Last Thing You Want to Do [Magic Bar Recipe]

My mom is a beautiful baker. When I was growing up she would make hundreds, yes hundreds of different types of stunning cookies to give to my Dad's coworkers, family, teachers and essentially everyone we had ever met as gifts for the holidays. As kids we got to reap the benefits... we were the taste testers and the battered bowl lickers... it was pure bliss.

My mom seemed to almost find therapy in it. She also had four kids and ran a daycare out of our home so a December Saturday spent baking alone was probably the closest thing to a winter vacation that she ever got. Note to self: buy mom a larger Christmas present.

I don't typically find therapy in baking but I do often feel the torture part. I sigh in having to pull out my mixer. The exact ingredients, all that measuring, the perfectly timed cooking, being interrupted 27 times and then the fact that there are cookies that must then be consumed. Yes that's the happy part but sugar is so much more tempting when it is right in front of us. Everything in moderation though right? And these kids are desperate to bake something this time of year and I'm trying to not be a complete Ebenezer so what to do...
The solution: let's simplify. This year I'm making one homemade beautifully easy recipe and then letting my kids do exactly what they want to do- whip up a store bought mix and then let them go insane with icing and sprinkles. It is really all about the sprinkles.

Here is a so simple you will be instantly in love recipe for Magic Bars. Adapted from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores which is a fabulous cookbook written by Ellen and Portia's personal chef (I'm sure I'll be invited for dinner there any day now). This is a non-vegan version but you can substitute vegan butter and make your own non-dairy condensed milk (2 cups) if you prefer vegan or love someone that is. Both versions are magic baby...

Magic Bars

The Players

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 2 cans (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • One 12-ounce bag Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
The Game

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs and the butter. Press the mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan to form the crust. Pour the  condensed milk evenly over the crust.
In a medium bowl, mix together the chocolate chips, flaked coconut, and chopped pecans. Distribute the mixture evenly over the crust and press down gently. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow the pan to cool completely before chilling it — overnight if you have the time — oth­erwise chill it for 2 hours.
For best results, cut the dessert into 1 x 3-inch bars or 2 x 2-inch squares once they are ice cold. Serve them at room temperature.
Serving Size
Makes about 25 bars
Done and done.
Now off to procrastinating something else.

Happy baking or lack there of to you magical beings...


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