american/ cookies/ Dessert

7-layer Magic Bars

24 June 2021 | Last Updated: 22 July 2021 By Aleksandra

These amazing magic 7 layer bars are the simplest dessert you could make! They require only 7 ingredients (hence the name) and almost no prep time. They are chewy, chocolatey, crunchy, nutty. You seriously cannot stop eating them!

There are very few ingredients needed for this recipe, but I’ve written lots of substitutions if you don’t have them all on hand!

If you love all things chocolate peanut butter like we do, try also these chocolate chunk peanut butter cookies, chocolate peanut butter smoothie, or chocolate peanut butter pretzels.

A stack of 7-layer Magic Bars on a piece of parchment paper.

7-layer Magic bars

Magic Bars, also called Hello Dollies or coconut dream bars are a popular treat in midwestern and northeastern US states. I didn’t grow up eating these but when I spotted them on Pinterest and glanced at the ingredients list I knew I had to make them. They contain all my favorite things like chocolate, nuts, and coconut. I knew they will be a hit just by looking at them! They are absolutely irresistible.

Recipe ingredients and ingredient substitutions

7 layer bars take their name from the 7 ingredient that are needed to make them:

1) Graham crackers + 2) butter: this will be our crust
Instead of graham crackers you can use: biscoff cookies, gingersnaps, pecan sandies, pretzels, or any other dry crumbly cookies.

3) Chocolate chips – the best are bittersweet chocolate chips.

You could also use semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips, but these bars would be too sweet in my opinion. I sometimes like to add 2/3 of bittersweet chips and 1/3 of milk chocolate chips. Instead of chocolate chips, you can use baking chocolate (a kind of chocolate that won’t melt all over the bars), chop the chocolate into pieces resembling chocolate chips.

4) Peanut butter chips – butterscotch chips are used in the original recipe but I’m not a fan of them, that’s why I used peanut butter chips (and I love everything chocolate and peanut butter). You could also use white chocolate chips (they are especially good if you also add dried apricots).

If you want to use peanut butter instead of peanut butter chips, you can also do that! Stir 2/3 cup (160g) of peanut butter with 4 teaspoons of light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of soft butter and spoon over the chocolate chips using two teaspoons. The bars will have a more pronounced peanut butter flavor when using real peanut butter versus peanut butter chips.

5) Nuts – pecans or walnuts work best here.

6) Shredded unsweetened coconut – make sure to use unsweetened. Some recipes call for sweetened but these bars would be too sweet for me.

7) Sweetened condensed milk – it holds all the ingredients together.

If you don’t have it on hand but want to make these bars you can beat 2 large eggs with 1 cup (200g) of light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour and use that instead. They are also very delicious made this way and also a little bit less sweet than the original. They also have a delicious crackly top like brownies.

Do not use evaporated milk, which comes in a similar can.

What could you also add: dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, dried apricots), m&m candies, chopped mini Reese’s cups, mini marshmallows, toffee bits.

The amounts of ingredients written in the recipe card are an estimate. You could totally eyeball the ingredients and be fine!

Labeled ingredients for 7-layer Magic Bars.

Step by step instructions

Melted butter and graham cracker crumbs in a pot. Mixed cookie crumbs with butter in a baking pan.

STEP 1: Process graham crackers in a food processor until crumbs form. Stir the crumbs with melted butter.

STEP 2: Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan (23x33cm) with butter and line it with parchment paper (don’t omit this step, the condensed milk sticks very easily to the pan). Greasing the pan with butter helps the parchment paper to stick. Add the cookie crumbs to the pan.

Cookie crust is being pressed with a spoon in a baking pan. Cookie crust and chocolate chips in a baking pan.

STEP 3: Press the cookie crumbs into the bottom of the pan (I like to use a spoon or a measuring cup to do that).

STEP 4: Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the crust.

Cookie crust, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and nuts in a baking pan.

STEP 5: Next come the peanut butter chips..

STEP 6: ..and roughly chopped nuts.

Cookie crust, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, nuts, shredded coconut, and sweetened condensed milk in a baking pan.

STEP 7: Sprinkle shredded coconut on top.

STEP 8: Slowly pour the condensed milk as evenly as possible over the bars. If there are small spots not covered with milk, it’s fine.

Bake the bars at 350°F (180°C) for 25 minutes, until golden.

Let cool completely (it will take about an hour) before cutting into squares (otherwise the bars won’t hold their shape).

I divided the bars into 6 bars, like shown on the photos, but I think it would be better to cut them into 12 squares instead.

7-layer magic bars divided into squares on a cooling rack.

Storage

Keep them in a closed container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. If you want to stack them up, put pieces of parchment paper between layers. You can also serve them cold – they are also delicious and more chewy. They are also very good the next day.

Can you freeze 7 Layer cookie bars? Yes! Cut them into squares, layer them between pieces of parchment paper and put into zip-lock bags or containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw overnight at room temperature (or in the refrigerator).

A close up photo of 7-layer magic bars on a cooling rack.

More cookie recipes you may like:

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

7-layer magic bars

These amazing magic 7 layer bars are the simplest dessert you could make! They require only 7 ingredients (hence the name) and almost no prep time. They are chewy, chocolatey, crunchy, and nutty.
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A stack of 7-layer magic bars on a piece of parchment paper.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 469kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (115g/1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup (180g) bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (160g) peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup (100g) walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup (75g) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 (14 fl oz/396g) can sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C / Gas Mark 4, no fan.
  • Process graham crackers in a food processor until crumbs form. Stir the crumbs with melted butter.
  • Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan (23x33cm) with butter and line it with parchment paper (don't omit this step, the condensed milk sticks very easily to the pan). Greasing the pan with butter helps the parchment paper to stick. Add the cookie crumbs to the pan.
  • Press the cookie crumbs into the bottom of the pan (I like to use a spoon or a measuring cup to do that).
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the crust, then peanut butter chips, followed by roughly chopped nuts, and shredded coconut.
  • Slowly pour the condensed milk as evenly as possible over the bars.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden.
  • Let cool completely (it will take about an hour) before cutting into 12 squares (otherwise the bars won’t hold their shape).
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Ingredient substitutions:
    • Instead of graham crackers you can use: biscoff cookies, gingersnaps, pecan sandies, pretzels, or any other dry crumbly cookies.
    • Chocolate chips: I sometimes like to add 2/3 of bittersweet chips and 1/3 of milk chocolate chips. Instead of chocolate chips, you can use baking chocolate, chop the chocolate into pieces resembling chocolate chips.
    • Instead of peanut butter chips, you can use butterscotch chips (if you like them), or white chocolate chips. If you want to use real peanut butter instead of peanut butter chips, you can also do that! Stir 2/3 cup (160g) of peanut butter with 4 teaspoons of light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of soft butter and spoon over the chocolate chips using two teaspoons. The bars will have a more pronounced peanut butter flavor when using real peanut butter versus peanut butter chips.
    • What to use instead of sweetened condensed milk: beat 2 large eggs with 1 cup (200g) of light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour and use that instead. They are also very delicious made this way and also a little bit less sweet than the original.
    • What could you also add: dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, dried apricots), m&m candies, chopped mini Reese’s cups, mini marshmallows, toffee bits.
  • The amounts of ingredients written in the recipe card are an estimate. You could totally eyeball the ingredients and be fine!
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/12 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword 7-layer cookie bars, 7-layers magic bars, holly dollies recipe

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