Vegan Magic Bars Recipe | Pamela Salzman & Recipes Skip to content

Vegan Magic Bars Recipe

 

Photos by Sarah Elliott

I always make a batch of sweets for Christmas and it’s usually something that can be eaten as a mini version, like a cookie or a bar.  My mom always puts out a big bowl of tangerines, some dried fruit and nuts, roasted chestnuts, my Aunt Maria’s cookies, my brother-in-law’s father’s coffee cake and some chocolates.  It’s total overkill on the desserts and we don’t need another thing, but I love baking something for Christmas.  I am also on vacation and it’s always more fun to cook without pressure!

Magic Bars|Pamela Salzman

For a few years in a row I made a vegan version of Magic Bars, aka Hello Dolly Bars or Seven Layer Bars.  I will warn you right now — these are rich, decadent and positively addictive.  When you sink your teeth into a bar, you hit several layers of flavors and textures.  How can you go wrong with graham crackers, dates (which taste like caramel in these bars), chocolate chips, coconut and pecans.  They’re all bound together with a sweetened condensed coconut milk.  It’s heaven.

Magic Bars|Pamela Salzman

Traditional Magic Bars use sweetened canned condensed milk, not something I would want to use (BPA, white sugar, and the idea of canned milk isn’t appealing.)  So we can just cook down coconut milk with some coconut sugar to get the same result.  Some versions of these bars use white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and sweetened coconut.  So while I wouldn’t say these are health food, they’re better than the original.

Magic Bars|Pamela Salzman

I was so obsessed with these bars that I decided to keep them in the freezer so I wouldn’t eat them.  Guess what?  I figured out quickly that they were just as amazing FROZEN!  What’s a girl to do?!

Magic Bars|Pamela Salzman

These are perfect for holiday parties since you can make them today and keep them in the fridge (in fact, they taste better the next day and day after) for at least a week or the freezer for a month.  Even though I said they are delicious frozen, do defrost them before serving them to your guests.  They also travel well.  My younger daughter asked me to bring her a batch on my last trip out to visit her.  I pulled the whole batch out of the pan in one piece and wrapped it really well in aluminum foil.  Yes, they were examined more closely in security at the airport, but they made it to her dorm room safely where they were devoured by starving college students.

Magic Bars|Pamela Salzman

If there’s an ingredient in here you don’t care for (like what???), just omit it and add more of everything else.  You can also make these GF with GF graham crackers – see the note in the recipe.  These magic bars are really easy – easier than they look.  And you might even have all the ingredients in your pantry.  I know you’re going to love them as much as I do.

Photo by Sarah Elliott for Pamela Salzman

Tomorrow I am off to Utah and I am taking a little break.  I am so excited to spend time with my husband and all three kiddos — literally my favorite thing to do no matter what we actually do.  It just means so much to be together.  And while I am on vacation, I thought I should also squeeze a little work in, too!  😉 I’m excited to be doing a TV segment on the FOX affiliate in Salt Lake City on Monday 12/18 in the 1:00 hour.  I’ll be making the banana French toast casserole from my cookbook (which this week MindBodyGreen named one of the top 10 best healthy cookbooks of 2017!!!).  And then I’ll be at Dolly’s Bookstore on Main Street in Park City on Thursday 12/21 from 6:30 to 8:00 signing books and hanging out.  Come say hi if you’re in the area.  I’m bringing Bliss Balls!!!  Lastly, I LOVE when you guys tag me on Instagram and share your pictures of what you’re making from the book.  It is an absolute thrill for me to see you cooking up a storm!  Thank you ~~xoxo

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Magic Bars Recipe
Author: 
Serves: 16 small squares
 
Ingredients
  • 1 14-ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • ½ cup coconut sugar, maple sugar, cane sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs* (about 14 crackers pulverized in a food processor)
  • 6 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup dates, pitted and diced (or omit dates and increase sugar to ⅔ cup)
  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (check the label for vegan chocolate)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup pecans, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease (coconut oil is fine) an 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking dish and line it with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Prepare condensed coconut milk: pour coconut milk into a medium size saucepan and whisk in coconut sugar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 12-14 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly and is reduced. I pour it back into the can and look for it to be about an inch below the rim. Remove from heat to cool.
  3. Prepare graham cracker crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press down firmly, making an even layer. The crust mixture needs to be pressed as firmly as possible. I use a metal measuring cup to pack it in.
  4. Pour condensed coconut milk mixture over the crust. Sprinkle on the diced dates and then the chocolate chips, followed by the coconut and then the pecans. Press the mixture down lightly with your hands until the coconut milk soaks upward into each layer.
  5. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 25-35 minutes, until the edges are golden. Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack for approximately 30 minutes. Set bars in the freezer for 2 hours or the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. If put in the freezer, bars will need to be defrosted before eating. Store in the refrigerator.
Notes
*Many graham crackers contain honey which is not vegan. Check the ingredients to be sure. You can also use GF graham crackers, but you will need more than 14 since they are usually smaller. Measure 2 cups of crumbs.

 

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Comments

19 Comments

  1. These bars are incredibly yummy with the recipe “as is” & set perfectly! The only problem they were devoured too quickly by the fam to reserve any in the freezer 🙂 saw their video and had to try the recipe, delish!

    • Sounds like a winner!

  2. Help; these are delicious but the graham cracker crust stayed in the pan; what did I do wrong?? Will freezing them help to remedy this?

    • Did you line the baking dish with parchment paper? The parchment helps pull the bars out easily.

    • Pamela, another great recipe. I subbed pulverized grain-free granola because I only had half of the amount of graham crackers needed. I may have pulsed the nuts and coconut a bit too much (pulsing instead of chopping, to save time), as the bars were a little runny after the max cooking time. Then, I added larger shreds of toasted coconut on the top, as they cooled in the pan, to “mop up” the liquid. Thank you! BTW, would you consider, please, sharing the recipe for the coffee cake that you have at Christmas? It sounds intriguing, as you’ve mentioned it a few times!

      • I’m glad you still enjoyed them despite them being runny. Sounds like you may have not let the coconut milk reduce enough before baking them. Storing them in the fridge also helps them set a bit more. And of course! I’ll have my assistant email you a copy of the coffee cake recipe!

  3. I made these today and they were incredibly yum! Thanks Pamela for another delicious recipe!

    • Aren’t these divine??? They freeze well, too!

  4. I made these yesterday, and while they taste amazing, they didn’t set! I didn’t have enough shredded coconut, don’t know if that makes a huge difference, but I have to eat it with a spoon out of the pan. (I mean, I don’t have to share them…). Any thoughts?

    • Sounds like you didn’t let the coconut milk reduce enough and/or you didn’t bake them long enough. I would store them in the fridge where they should set a bit more. Sorry!

      • Thank you! I look forward to that treat, too.

  5. I have question about coconut milk is the one in a can? Is there different between coconut milk and coconut cream?

    • Yes, the one in the can. Coconut milk in the refrigerated section is coconut milk beverage and it’s thin and has additives. Coconut cream is just the thick fat from the coconut milk. It’s great for making whipped coconut cream, but not for when the recipe calls for coconut milk.

  6. I used to devour Dream Bars from the health food store in college in the 1970’s. They look & sound quite similar. Does anyone know if they’re the same or similar as Magic Bars? T

    These look yummy – thanks Pamela!

    • Similar! I think there might be eggs in Dream Bars. You can really put other things in here, too. Like cornflakes, dried apricots, etc.

  7. I did not think that Graham crackers are vegan, Are they not made with egg ?

    • I have three different brands of graham crackers right now and none of them contains egg. They do however contain honey, so I am definitely in error here since honey is not vegan. I will adjust the recipe. Thank you!

  8. Oh,these bars look amazing. Thank you for sharing the recipe.
    I have a question. Do you think digestive biscuits would work instead of graham crackers. They are hard to find where I live.
    Thank you.

    • They are sooooo good! I do think digestive biscuits would work as well as any kind of hard, thin cookie. I haven’t tried any other version, so I can’t be 100% sure though. Let me know if you make this recipe with something other than graham crackers!


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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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