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Brownies & Bars

Simple Magic Bars (Hello Dolly Bars)

5 from 1 vote
My Homemade Magic Bars are full of chocolate, coconut, and nuts, topped with caramelized sweetened condensed milk. An old-school favorite!
Three homemade Magic Bars are served on a white plate next to a glass of milk. The Magic Bars show a layers of graham cracker crust, shredded coconut, toasted pecans, and chocolate.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHAT YOU GET: An effortless recipe for Magic Bars, also known as Hello Dolly Bars, inspired by Magnolia Bakery, nostalgia, and old-school bake sales. These easy desserts are chock-full of chocolate, coconut, and nutty flavors! 

While Magic Bars have become a go-to order for tourists and New Yorkers alike from the famed Magnolia Bakery, these incredible (and incredibly easy) dessert bars have been a hit since the ’60s! 

This Magic Bar recipe is packed with all of the flavors that made them hits at every all-American bake sale, including a crumbly graham cracker crust that supports layers of chocolate, pecans, and coconut — all of which are coated in condensed milk that’s all baked until it becomes deliciously caramelized. A touch of sea salt helps keep the flavors balanced and makes this sweet treat a little more adult. 

While there’s some mystery as to why they’re called “Magic Bars” (we’ll get into that later!), the magic seems to lie in just how easy these homemade Hello Dolly bars are to make! This dessert bar recipe is perfect to make for sharing, either at parties or at bake sales, and great to whip up in advance!

Two Magic Cookie Bars are served on a white plate, the top of the Magic Bars is covered in gooey, caramelized condensed milk.

What Are Magic Bars? How To Make Magic Cookie Bars

Magic Cookie Bars, or Hello Dolly Bars, are dessert bars made with a graham cookie crust (I use my Cookie Crust recipe), which is filled with a mixture of shredded coconut, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, and toasted pecans. This mixture is then topped with condensed milk which, when baked, takes on a delicious caramel flavor and chewy texture. It takes just 25 to 30 minutes in the oven! They’re easy to make in advance, cut, and share! 

Why Are They Called “Magic Bars?” 

Why they’re called “magic,” just like why they’re called “Hello Dolly Bars,” is a bit of baking lore — as all good word-of-mouth, you-gotta-try-this recipes are! The only theory I’ve come across as to why they’re called “Hello Dollies” is because they were invented around the time the Broadway musical came out in 1964. 

blogger named Dawn seems to have discovered that the original recipe was shared in 1965 through a food columnist thanks to 11-year-old Alecia Leigh Couch, who got the recipe from her grandmother but named it herself after Hello Dolly! 

As for “Magic Bar,” the name likely stems from Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, who published a recipe for these dessert cookie bars on the back of their condensed milk cans in 1964. Maybe it got its name from how magically easy they are to make! 

Can You Freeze Magic Bars?

Magic Bars can be frozen, but it’s worth taking a few extra steps to ensure they freeze perfectly. If I have leftover Hello Dollies, I like to pre-cut them into the size I want the bars to be and freeze them on top of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once frozen solid, I put them in an air-tight container, with parchment paper separating the bars. 

You can keep these bars frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure to let them sit on a counter for about 20 minutes to come to room temperature before serving.

Tools You Need To Make Magic Cookie Bars

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Hello Dollies

  • I don’t usually bake prebake my cookie crust, but a little bit of extra baking keeps things from getting too crumbly.
  • You can use any chocolate you prefer, even chocolate chips. Just avoid milk chocolate to keep things from getting too sweet.
  • Make sure you use unsweetened, shredded coconut, not the pre-sweetened kind.
  • Toasted nuts are the most flavorful and work the best in this recipe. To toast nuts, spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 350°F (180°C) oven for about 10 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on these bars as it gets close to the end of the baking time to make sure the top isn’t over-browning.

Try More Dessert Bar Recipes!

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Magic Bars

5 from 1 vote
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 15 bars
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 15 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Cookie Crust
  • 2 cups (6 oz/170 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1⅓ cups (8 oz/225 g) finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup (5 oz/142 g) pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1 (14 oz/397 g) can condensed milk
  • ½ teaspoon flakey sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a 9x13-inch (23x33-cm) pan with parchment paper.
  • Press the cookie crust evenly into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes to set the crust.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, chocolate, and pecans, then spread over the crust.
  • Pour the condensed milk evenly over the coconut mixture and sprinkle all over with the flakey sea salt.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway through until the top is golden brown and caramelized. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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Jayne
Jayne
9 days ago

Hi Gemma, I love the sound of these, can I use dessicated coconut as that is what is readily available here, thank you.

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

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