Vegan Magic Bars Recipe with Oreos
Vegan Magic Bars Recipe with Oreos
This simple gluten free and vegan magic bar recipe exposes you to:
- The joys of working with coconut condensed milk;
- Crumble crusts for easy gluten free bars and pies;
Magic Bars are a great first timer recipe because:
- It does not require any flour blending;
- You just have to layer ingredients and pop it in the oven, so no mixing;
- It is not measured in metric grams, meaning I will not force you to crack out the kitchen scale;
- No mixer required;
- The recipe is made in one bowl, meaning less dishes!
When learning something new, you start with the absolute basics.
(listen to this reflection in the video above!)
Combined with the idea that baking is “precise science” (it is, but also with enough practice it doesn’t have to be so stressful), it’s not surprise the most popular recipes on Google are one bowl, no bake, or really familiar and straight-forward recipes. Recipes on the box of an ingredient, like unsweetened chocolate or a cake mix, are what usually gets baked. Growing up, my mother never really experimented with new or challenging recipes. Even making a double dark chocolate cookie was a big deal.
Now, if you combine that desire to keep it simple with baking for allergens, suddenly the task of baking feels almost impossible. Taking a chance on a new recipe might end up in a complete, crumbly, unpalatable disaster, and with such expensive ingredients, why take the risk?
Well, you take the risk because most allergen free baked goods you buy in the grocery store SUCK. Let’s call a spade a spade. I DESPISED wasting my money on premade treats, even if the ones I made at home tasted horrific. The baked goods I made at home still gave me the pleasure of creating something. Just buying a pathetic excuse for a gluten free cookie with my coffee was not only a waste of an experience, but a waste of the cookie itself, because chances are, I threw it out.
Having high standards sucks. I remembered how good gluten filled bread tasted. I remembered how yummy butter tasted in a cookie. I remembered how rich eggs made brownies. I remembered how delightful a cheesecake made with real cheese tasted. That tang is impossible to recreate with soy based cream cheese! Soy based dairy free cheesecake tasted like plastic or playdoh, not cheese!!!
I used to cheat my diet in the early days ALL THE TIME!
Being stressed constantly from school, the perpetual flow of cortisol in my blood made me CRAVE the real deal. I knew combining stress with food that caused flare ups was going to result in pain and another sleepless night, but frankly, my brain didn’t care. On the days I felt most tired, I would buy myself a giant magic bar from Williams Cafe across from the Health Sci Lounge. Magic bars are a simple layer bar, identical to the hello dolly except the crust differs: crushed oreos topped with flaked coconut, milk chocolate/dark chocolate chips, walnuts, and drizzled with white chocolate. I would proceed to eat it in one sitting, feeling a rush of dopamine from its deliciously sweet and buttery taste. I would then feel incredibly bloated, sick, and have no appetite for the rest of the day.
The taste was always worth it. The experience of not restricting myself and feeling like I was sacrificing was worth the pain.
My roommate and best friend Sohail loved magic bars, and would usually indulge in one with me on those afternoon treats from Williams. At home, my roommates (i had 5) often asked me to bake for the house, to which I happily obliged. However, they would specifically request that I made things that WERE NOT gluten free. If I made something gluten free, it would often sit in the fridge for weeks uneaten. If I made something with gluten or dairy, it was consumed an hour after being pulled from the oven.
Sohail, being a magic bar hoe (his choice of title), would always request magic bars.
I would make them for him, and he would eat them happily while I felt like crap.
But one day, I thought “condensed milk isn’t hard to make, why can’t I do it dairy free”. At the time, oreo’s were not gluten free, and the gluten free competitors brand was lack lustre and expensive. But, I knew gluten free graham crackers were half decent. That was the day I decided to take a stab at making hello dollies I could eat, hoping they’d get Sohails seal of approval.
I went to Goodness Me (the local health food store) to collect some graham crackers and soy milk to condense, only to discover that coconut condensed milk was a thing! Who knew that discovering a small light blue can of Nature’s Charm could bring so much joy. Little did I know, coconut condensed milk would change the baking game for me, enabling me to push the creative bounds of inclusive dessert. If you plan on baking along with me, I highly suggest you invest in several cans of Nature’s Charm coconut condensed milk. At the bakery, we used gallon sized cans of the stuff…
Back to me in Goodness Me, rationalizing this baking experiment. If I:
- Replaced the oreos for gluten free grahams;
- Replaced the butter for coconut oil (since there’s tons of coconut in it anyways);
- Replaced the condensed milk for coconut condensed milk;
- Used dairy free Enjoy life mini chocolate chips for milk chocolate chips;
This actually MIGHT taste good!
I rushed home, whipped together the dollies following the non-gluten free/vegan recipe on the side of the Eagle Brand condensed milk can….
And lo and behold, they turned out GREAT! The crust was a little crumbly (it completely separated from the coconut part of the bar), but it was sweet, crunchy, chocolatey, and
SOHAIL ACTUALLY ATE IT!
These super simple bars were one of the first things I baked allergen free that I actually liked, and quickly became a staple.
When I opened Dolled Up Desserts, these were one of the first things I baked and sold both at events and wholesale. I named the wholesale version of the bars “Grables’ Gams”, after Betty Grable and her iconic legs (LOL), because these bars were iconic. Coconut, nuts, chocolate, gooey coconut caramelly goodness, a crisp cookie crust… what more could you ask for.
Throughout the 6 years of operating Dolled Up, the Hello Dolly was ALWAYS present and accounted for. Its recipe evolved over the years (at one point we used flaxseed to help hold it together, later we made our own graham crackers), but its iconic taste remained the same. Given how simple it was to make and its incredible shelf life (it could be frozen essentially forever, and kept in the fridge for a month), from a business standpoint, this bar was also cost efficient to scale.
I was a bit upset that it remained the most underrated bar during our days at the shop, but those that did try it fell in love with it, and tended to buy one religiously. It was a favourite for most of our staff members, so no one was upset when they didn’t sell or turned out janky. More dollies for us to eat! At one point, we stopped eating the rejects and upcycled them into a limited release cake, the German Chocolate Cake. That cake was DEADLY. It was so good, that it made my top three favourite cake flavours we ever made. If I haven’t convinced you of the dolly yet, the German Chocolate Cake featuring the dolly was my wedding cake flavour. It’s pretty darn good.
I present to you the Magic Bar. This is based on the Hello Dolly recipe we sold in the shop, except for simplicity sake, it is made with store bought gluten free oreos instead of homemade graham crackers. You can buy graham crackers if you want, and in future recipes I will reveal our graham cracker formulation for you to try out. I have also included some optional mixins to doll them up and make them spectacular. This recipe is simple enough to follow, but with enough flexibility to invite some creativity into your baking.
I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this simple to make recipe as much as I do.
Until next time,