Classic American magic bars, also called seven-layer bars or Hello Dolly bars, made effortlessly dairy-free by using sweetened condensed coconut milk.
You take some graham crackers, crush them up with something buttery (but in this case, not). You smother them with coconut and chocolate and nuts and melt everything together till it's good and gooey. Honestly, so much more American than apple pie, no? Behold the magic bar, also known as the seven-layer bar (I can't abide this nomenclature because I can't count seven layers), also, perhaps, though it gets dicey, as hello dolly bars (which some will insist are a different, if similar, thing).
Around the time I started keeping kosher, I discovered Isa Chandra Moskowitz's vegan baking books. The venn diagram of vegans and kosher-keepers obviously has different rings, respectively, for Eggs Are Not Okay and Yay, Eggs don't Count as Dairy. But the center intersects widely enough that vegan desserts also work for those of us who have to nix the butter and cream in their Shabbat dessert. (It's like a kashrut rite of passage, taking a vegan recipe and re-replacing the egg replacer with an egg.) It was in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar that I came upon magic bars for the first time, ever. Do you know what that means? It means that I had the vegan version before I ever tasted one with sweetened condensed milk and butterscotch chips. And do you know what that means? Yup, the dairy-free version is...wait for it...better. It makes sense, in that magic bars are coconutty, so why not up the coconut factor, especially given coconut milk's creaminess?
The version in Vegan Cookies Invade predates the existence, at least to my knowledge, of sweetened condensed coconut milk. Happily for kosher consumers and vegans, this product has been invented. And is kosher certified. And is absolute perfection in magic bars. It makes your job, and your post-meat-meal and/or vegan dessert plans, very easy.
How to make dairy-free magic bars
Somewhat true to their layered moniker, making these bars is an easy process of layering the different elements. You start off by making a graham cracker crust: pulsing graham crackers in the food processor until finely ground, then pouring in melted margarine or coconut oil. This mixture gets pressed into a square pan and your first layer is done (no blind bake needed).
After the graham cracker layer, you pour the sweetened condensed coconut milk right over the crumbs. While the cans of sweetened condensed coconut milk are smaller than the standard can of (dairy) sweetened condensed milk, this recipe is made in a square pan rather than a large rectangular pan, so only one is needed.
Then, the chocolate chips get sprinkled on top, followed by the shredded coconut. I use unsweetened, finely-flaked coconut, but you can also use the sweetened shredded coconut from the baking aisle here.
Last up are the nuts. I particularly like the combination of walnuts and pecans, but you can use either one, or another kind of nut you like. I bet peanuts would be good here.
When everything's layered in the pan, press it down a bit and put them in the oven. The sweetened condensed coconut milk will work its magic and bubble up around the ingredients, forming layers of sweetness.
Looking for more dairy-free desserts?
- Dairy-free lemon pound cake with coconut cream and macerated berries—You won't believe the texture on this cake.
- Box office Monday cookies—The best-ever dairy-free, comforting oatmeal raisin cookies.
- Israeli poppy seed cake with chocolate ganache—Topped with a luscious but completely dairy-free chocolate topping, this classic Israeli cake is wonderful for Shabbat and snacking all weekend long.
Dairy-Free Magic Bars (parve)
- Food processor
- 10 graham crackers or 1 sleeve petit buerre biscuits
- ¼ cup margarine or coconut oil, melted
- 1 can sweetened condensed coconut milk - 180 ml
- ¾ cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Line a 8" / 20 cm square pan with parchment paper.
- Place the graham crackers or biscuits in a food processor and process to a fine crumb.
- Melt the margarine/coconut oil. Pour into the food processor while it's running, until the crumbs begin to clump together.
- Turn out the crumb mixture into the prepared baking pan. Pat them down firmly in a uniform layer.
- Pour the sweetened condensed coconut milk over the graham cracker crumbs.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips over, followed by the coconut and the two kinds of nuts.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until slightly golden on top. Allow to cool completely before slicing.