Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Magic Bars

In my experience, there are a few non-vegan foods that just can't be replicated.  Cheese is one of them, and I tend to steer clear of eating vegan "cheese" if I can.  Sweetened condensed milk is another one...or so I thought.  This sweet baking ingredient is one of the key components of magic bars--a dessert I hadn't eaten since becoming vegan. 

Enter Chef Cloe's Beach Cookies recipe, passed along to me by my coworker.  These beach cookies (magic bars, layer bars) do justice to the bars I remember, even without sweetened condensed milk.  Victory!

Slightly blurry; wholly delicious.
Magic Bars
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I bought vegan graham crackers and used a food processor to create crumbs)
  • 1 cup coconut milk, mixed well before measuring
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1.5 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 - 12 ounce package vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (ideally toasted)

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Get out a 13x9" nonstick baking pan.

Next, pour the melted butter into the bottom of the pan, making sure the bottom is completely covered.  Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs into the pan to create an even layer, and then use your hands to press down the crumbs to create the crust. 

Whisk together the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Carefully drizzle the mixture as evenly as possible over the graham cracker crust.  Sprinkle the coconut across the pan as the next layer, followed by layers of chocolate chips and walnuts.  Finally, use your hand to lightly press the walnut/chocolate chip layer a bit into the rest of the bars. 

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the edges appear lightly browned. IMPORTANT: Let the bars cool and then refrigerate for a few hours before eating.  Really, these bars are much better when they're cold! 

Yields 1 pan magic bars.

These bars really hit the spot as a sweet summertime treat.  They're chocolatey and nutty without being heavy or too rich, and the coconut flavor is nice and light.  The crunchy, perfectly sweet ingredients contribute to a very satisfying bite.  Thank you, Chef Cloe.
This recipe is a bit on the expensive side, as walnuts and maple syrup certainly aren't cheap.  But, everything should be very easy to find, and it will be worth it once you do.
 Ease of Preparation:        
These bars are quite easy to make.  Lots of sprinkling and layering, which is hard to mess up.  If you don't have a food processor or some other way of crushing graham crackers into crumbs, you can always buy pre-made graham cracker crumbs. 
Non-vegan friendliness:       
While I must admit that it's been many years since I've had non-vegan magic bars, I am confident that these taste just as good.  Rachel noted that nothing seems "off" about the bars.  In fact, coconut milk works quite well given the inclusion of coconut flakes, anyway.  I'm sure we'll be making these again sometime soon. 


  1. Oh wow those look delicious! Are they mailable?

    1. They'd certainly hold up in the mail, but I'd worry that the chocolate might melt.