Appalachian Food

Magic Cookie Bars

recipe card

I was flipping through an old cookbook and noticed a recipe for Magic Cookie Bars. I hadn’t had them in ages. I went in search of Granny’s old handwritten recipe card to see if what she called magic cookie bars were the same as the cookbook—they were.

Magic Cookie Bars

  • 1/2 cup margarine (I used butter)
  • 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or nut of your choice
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350. Place butter in 13 x 9 inch pan and place in oven to melt butter. Remove pan from oven; sprinkle crumbs over butter and press down with fork. Sprinkle coconut over crumbs, then add layer of chips and nuts. Drizzle surface with condensed milk. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

plate of cookie bars

The bars are just as good as I remember them being when I was a kid.


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  • Reply
    January 21, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    Love these! The recipe is so versatile. I made a Holiday version last Christmas. It had Biscoff cookie crumbs instead of Graham cracker, white chocolate chips, sliced almonds, coconut, dried cranberries, and sweetened condensed milk. I took them to church, everybody loved them.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Sounds delicious. I will have to try this. Thanks Tipper.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 20, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    My Mother used to make these “Magic Cookie Bars” years ago…In later years the recipe came back in the newspaper as “Hello Dolly” cookies. I don’t know why because they were essentially the same recipe or close to each other…We always used Nestles Chocolate Chips…The very best flaked Coconut and chopped pecans..
    I made these during Christmas holidays..I always make mine in a square pan, because I like mine a bit thicker…I did try one recipe using the chocolate as well as the butterscotch chips…I must tell you I do not like the mixture or layer of butterscotch…They are rich enough without the taste of the butterscotch for me anyways…LOL
    I am looking for a recipe my Mother used to make in a square dish as well…Similar to Magic Cookie Bars…only she used chopped dates, pecans, coconut, condensed milk but seems like there was something else. Todays prices of these ingredients prevents me for giving the recipe a “go for it” memory try. I just can’t bare the thought of wasting all those luscious tasting and expensive items…..I’m just too tight in my old age! We always called this recipe “stomachache cake” because after eating such “rich coconutty and nutty” recipes we would get a stomachache…Hope someone can give or share a similar recipe using dates..and essentially layered and baked like the Magic Cookie Bars..
    Tipper, another memory recipe…Since it turned cold..left over rotisserie chicken becomes chicken and dumplings tonight! We had and earthquake today and this morning snow spitting..cloudy all day as well..

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 20, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    Those Magic Cookies look Good. I’m trying to cut down on Sweets, like Ed. The last time I went to see my Family Dr. for my yearly check-up, Dr. Gary Roper said whatever you are doing, keep it up cause you’ve lost over 25 pounds since the last time we talked. I told him I had cut-down on Sweets.

    Last week I saw my two daughters at a Cabin on Collet Creek, off Junluska Road, northeast of Andrews. I hadn’t ever seen Keva’s son, he is about a year old, and he grins almost all the time, like Kaysha’s girl. She’s three. Jennifer’s other two girls had to work.

    Lauralea’s bunch all came, she’s my oldest girl that lives in Chapel Hill. Her daughter, Ellieanna is driving now, and Annabelle is almost as tall as Ellie is. Made me feel Old. Annabelle wasn’t even born when John Glen made wooden trains for all my other Granddaughters. So, I decided to give her my CHEROKEE TOOL & MOLD that he made for me. It has a Silver Engine and a Red Cabbouse, and many tires painted Black. When my uncle, Toot’s Husband, Tommy Higdon, he had wood machines too, made a track with many Crossties and grooves for it to run on.

    I knew nothing about the Platform Tommy made for me. I bet Annabelle will be tickled over this.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 20, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Tipper – “the recipe says margarine but I’ve got a butter idea!”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 20, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    I might try this later but I have a butternut squash sitting in yonder in the kitchen waiting for me roast it like you showed a couple of weeks ago. I’ve got to start limiting myself on this sweet stuff though. It’s got to where I have to hold my breath when I put on my sox or tie my shoes. You remember when you was pregnant with the girls. Well it’s getting like that so I’ve put myself on a diet, sort of. I’ve lost about 10 lbs. since the first of December but I still got a ways to go. Or should I say a weighs to go!

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    January 20, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Absolutely love those! Going to have to get the coconut. Have been making my Mummo’s brownies (100+ year-old recipe) this winter and need to try something new. So glad to finally get the recipe!

  • Reply
    January 20, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    We called these bars Hello Dollies. I have no clue where that name comes from. They are indeed wonderful and oh so rich!

  • Reply
    marshall reagan
    January 20, 2020 at 10:49 am

    I am going to try those as soon as I can get the graham crackers & chocolate chips

  • Reply
    Betty Mc
    January 20, 2020 at 10:30 am

    40+ years ago my daughter won a blue ribbon at our local County Junior Livestock Show with her Magic Cookie Bars. I remember she made numerous “trial batches” before hand to make sure her entry would be just right. Of course we wanted to do our part to support her but we ate so many Magic Cookie Bars that we banned them from our house for really can have too much of a good thing!

  • Reply
    January 20, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Thanks for sharing a yummy looking recipe I’ve never heard of. You know I’m going to try it.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    January 20, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Yeah, I’ve had those but it seems like it was a 100 years ago. We don’t have many real sweets around here anymore. My wife has type 2 diabetes and mostly cooks with stevia. Last night she made some kind of baked punkin custard with stevia. It wasn’t too bad after I covered mine with real whipped cream.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2020 at 9:14 am

    They look delicious!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 20, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Ok, I just gotta ask. What is the ‘magic’? Is it in the mysterious way they go away?

    We finally got Georgia’s winter cold weather. It is a bit late this year. Usually happens before Jan 15. I covered my broccoli, kale and cabbage so we’ll see how that goes. Almost time to start getting the garden ready again. I could use some magic there.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2020 at 9:00 am

    I love these — too much. My recipe calls for 1/2 chocolate chips and 1/2 butterscotch and walnuts rather than pecans. Lately I only make them if I can take them to someone else. Otherwise I can eat half a pan.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2020 at 8:49 am

    One of the best sweet treats ever; so fast, and I always have ingredients on hand. My mothers’s recipe card also says margarine, but I use butter. I haven’t bought margarine in at least 40 years. Love your blog!!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 20, 2020 at 7:27 am

    That sounds wonderful. I love anything with sweetened condensed milk in it. In fact I like sweetened condensed milk straight out of the can…but I’m not a sugar junkie or anything like that! LOL!

  • Reply
    Sue W,
    January 20, 2020 at 5:33 am

    I do something similar, but I use Nilla Wafers instead of the Graham Crackers because we don’t like the taste of them. Just whiz the Nilla’s in a blender til you get crumbs.

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