I had a ton of white chocolate chips left over from my holiday baking that I wanted to use before they lost their freshness. Inspired by our friends at Tony Caters who make an awesome cranberry magic bar, I decided to whip up this easy batch of apricot magic bars. Magic bars are a great option if you have random dried fruit, nuts or chocolate chips that you need to use. They are so easy to put together and they taste great too!
The other great thing about magic bars is the flavor combinations are endless. You are only limited by your imagination! The basic composition of magic bars is a cookie crust base (think graham cracker, Oreo or ginger snaps) covered with a layer of condensed milk, topped with a combination of nuts, chocolate, dried fruit, shredded coconut or sprinkles.
Crushing Cookies for Crusts
Nowadays you can find graham cracker crumbs and Oreo crumbs at many supermarkets. This makes the first step in the process much easier as you do not have to do the work of crushing the cookies. If you are however, starting with whole cookies to create the crumbs here are a couple of methods you can follow.
The first is to manually crush the cookies using a rolling pin or meat mallet. Place the cookies in a Ziploc bag and expel any air before sealing. You want to ensure there is no air in the bag so that the bag does not burst while you are crushing the cookies leaving a mess on your counter.
Once the bag is sealed smash the cookies with rolling pin or mallet until they resemble fine crumbs. You will want to shake the bag a few times during this process to ensure a more even crush.
The Ziploc smashing method is a great option if you want to minimize clean up or if you do not have a food processor on hand. This method however, will result in a courser less consistent crumb. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is more about your personal preference.
The second method involves pulsing the cookies in a food processor until a fine crumb forms. This method is a lot easier than the Ziploc smashing method and results in a more consistent crumb. If you like a finer crumb this is definitely the method you will want to use.
Making the crust
Magic bars are very simple to put together and do not require any complicated baking techniques. First you will want to prepare the crust by mixing the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a bowl until well combined. Firmly press the the mixture into a lined or lightly sprayed pan ensuring the crust is evenly distributed. You may like to use a flat bottomed measuring cup or glass to press down the crust to ensure it is more evenly packed into the pan.
If you do not want to cut your completed magic bars directly in the pan you may want to line the pan with parchment paper. This will help you easily remove the whole bar to a cutting board.
Assembling the Magic Bars
Once the crust is complete you will slowly pour the condensed milk over top ensuring even coverage. YOU DO NOT WANT TO USE A SPOON OR SPATULA FOR THIS STEP! You will be fighting a losing battle if you try. Condensed milk does not spread well when manipulated by a spoon or spatula. It will stick to the utensil rather than moving where you want it to. Instead you want to create a slow stream of the condensed milk directly from the can. Slowly move the stream back and forth over the crust filling in the gaps with each pass.
Mix your toppings together in a bowl and sprinkle over the condensed milk. Mixing the toppings together before sprinkling over the condensed milk helps ensure an even distribution of all the flavors. Regardless of how many toppings you decide to add you will want to have four total cups of toppings. Gently press the toppings down. Do not press too hard as you do not want the condensed milk to be forced to the surface. A light, gentle press is with your hand is all that is required.
Finally bake the magic bars at 325°F for 25 minutes or until golden turning the pan halfway through cooking. Turning the pan ensures your magic bars are cooked evenly on all sides. Let the magic bars cool at room temperature for AT LEAST two hours. This step cannot be skipped! I know this part may be difficult as they smell SO good and you want to eat them right away. If you try and cut the magic bars before they are properly set you will end up with a gooey mess.
Magic bars a very flexible when it comes to serving size and shape. These bars can be cut into squares, rectangles or triangles. Using a serrated knife will be easiest to cut through the toppings.
Apricot Magic Bars
These apricot magic bars are so easy to put together and so full of flavor they are sure to be a regular in your baking rotation
- Lightly spray a 9 x 13 pan or line with parchment and set aside
- Preheat oven to 325 F
- Mix gingersnap crumbs and melted butter until well combined and firmly press into baking pan
- Slowly drizzle condensed milk over crust in pan until evenly distributed (do not use spoon or spatula to spread)
- Mix apricots, white chocolate, almonds and coconut in a separate bowl
- Evenly sprinkle toppings over condensed milk layer
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden turning the pan half way through
- Let cool at room temperature for AT LEAST 2 hours before cutting
Store in an air tight container at room temperature for up to a week
Wrap well in plastic wrap and place in Ziploc bag to store in freezer for up to three months