With December comes holidays, and with holidays comes cookies. Some of the best cookies are those that connect you to fond holiday memories. For me, one of those involves a cousin who would always bring layered cookie bars to family gatherings. To be honest, they weren’t my favorites at the time because I am not a fan of the coconut which always graces the tops of these bar cookies. But I do remember that I would scrape that off to reach the decadent richness that lay underneath. So, my first cookie this holiday season is my version of the magic bar made without coconut. I’ve adorned it with Hanukkah colors to make it sparkle for the festival of lights.
To begin making this treat, I needed to prepare my own vegan sweetened condensed milk. After browsing Eagle Brand’s website, I discovered I would need to produce 10 ounces, as that was equivalent to one of their 14-ounce cans. You can buy the coconut canned variety if you prefer. To further adapt the classic recipe into a non-coconut sensation, I decided to swap out the shredded coconut and use chopped apricots in the topping. The other vegan change was to use vegan butter instead of dairy butter. No high altitude adjustments were required, so I was on my way down a new memory lane — one with no coconut but all of the vegan goodness of the bars they call Magic.
Holiday Layered Magic Bars adapted partly from VeganBaking.net
for the vegan sweetened condensed milk:
2.75 cups non-dairy milk, such as soy or almond
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 Tablespoon vegan butter, salted or unsalted
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the bars:
14 graham cracker sheets
1 4-ounce stick unsalted vegan butter, melted, plus more for the baking pan
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped apricots
1/4 cup organic sanding sugar
1-2 Tablespoons blue vegan sprinkles or sparkles
Place non-dairy milk, sugar, vegan butter, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over a medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until the volume is reduced to 10 ounces. Be sure to simmer gently; don’t let the mixture come to a roiling boil. This may take an hour or two. When the liquid is reduced, take the pot off the stove and whisk in the vanilla. Place the mixture into the fridge to cool and thicken further.
Meanwhile, position an oven rack on the lowest position and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving overhang on two opposite sides for removing the baked bars. Butter the foil and set the pan aside.
Once the condensed milk has cooled, put the graham crackers in a food processor and process into fine crumbs. Place the crumbs in a bowl and add the melted stick of butter. Stir to combine. Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan and press into the bottom to form a crust. Pour the condensed milk over the crumb layer and gently spread it out with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the chocolate chips then the walnuts then the apricots over the top.
Bake until set and golden around the edges, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Decorate with sanding sugar and blue sparkles. Let pan sit on the rack to cool for another 2 hours. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil overhang then place on a cutting board to cut into bars.
Until next time, Happy Hanukkah and happy baking!