Tropical Magic Bars

Tropical Magic Bars are soft, chewy, and perfect for snacking or gifting! Loaded with dried mango and pineapple, shredded coconut, and white milk chocolate on a golden graham crust, they’re sure to hit the sweet spot!

Magic bars are one of my favorite sweet treats. They’re a type of dessert wherein the ingredients are layered one on top of the next in a pan and then baked until soft and chewy with a bit of crunch.

With toasted nuts, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, and condensed milk piled over a buttery graham crust, these cookie bars are pretty hard to resist. They’re seriously addictive!

The cookie bars are not only delicious but versatile, too. While the buttery graham crust that acts as the base and the sweetened condensed that glues everything together are essential components, the rest of the ingredients are fair game.

While the recipe below is fantabulous as is and dried mangoes, pineapples, coconut shavings, and candied lime peels do work well,  you can definitely experiment with other options. Check out my suggested substitutions below and pick your favorite combinations!

Ingredient substitutions

  • Dates, golden raisins or sultanas
  • Dried fruits such as papaya, jackfruit, or guava
  • Toasted nuts such as walnuts, pecans, pili, or cashews
  • Replace the condensed milk with caramel sauce or dulce de leche
  • Swap the shredded coconut with ¼ cup quick cook oats

What makes these tropical cookie bars extra special in my opinion is the candied peels. The delicious medley of sweet and sour provides a refreshing contrast to the rich, chocolatey flavors.

You can buy them at specialty stores or make them from scratch. Try various citrus fruits such as calamansi, orange, dalandan, or lemon.

How to make candied citrus peels

  • In a small pot over medium heat, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the lime peels and boil for about 10 minutes.
  • Drain the water and repeat the process 2 more times.
  • Fill the pot once again with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar and stir to combine. Boil over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the lime peel. Continue to cook for about 5 to 10 minutes or until syrup is reduced and peels are soft.
  • Drain the peels and cool. Toss in ¼ cup of sugar.
  • Remove the coated lime peels from the sugar and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool and dry completely.
  • Cut into small pieces to use in the recipe or store in an airtight container.

Another component of these dessert treats that makes them super yummy is the buttery graham cracker crust. You can buy ready graham cracker crumbs from the store or crush the crackers yourself using either of the two methods below.

How to make graham cracker crumbs

  • Crumble the crackers and place in a food processor. Pulse a few times until they turn into fine crumbs
  • Alternatively, break the crackers into pieces and place in a ziplock bag. Over a flat working surface, run a rolling pin over the bag until the crackers are crushed into fine crumbs.

These tropical cookie bars are sure to hit the sweet spot. They’re the perfect treat to enjoy for a snack, to bring to potlucks and parties, or to give out as homemade gifts.

They’re so simple to make, you can have a batch ready in a cinch. Just prepare the crust, layer the toppings, and pop in the oven until golden yet soft and chewy.

Line the baking pan with parchment paper with a bit of overhand so you can easily lift the whole piece to a cutting board. For neater slices, let cool and firm up a little before cutting.

How to store

  • Store the bars in an airtight container or resealable bag. They’ll keep at room temperature for about 3 to 5 days depending on ambient temperatures.
  • For longer life, refrigerate for up to one week or freeze for up to 3 months. If freezing, place a sheet of parchment between slices to keep them from sticking together.
  • When ready to enjoy, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or a few hours on the counter. To make soft and gooey, warm the thawed bars in the microwave for about 20 to 30 seconds.

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