These caramel apple magic bars combine all of the fabulous flavors of the season with layers of cinnamon-graham crust, chocolate chips, caramels, chopped apple, and walnuts, all drenched in fabulous sweetened condensed milk.
This recipe is sponsored by Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.
Mmmmm caramel apple… one of my all-time favorite fall indulgences, and a flavor combination I love to incorporate into as many desserts as possible once the cool weather hits.
If you haven’t heard of magic bars before, they also go by the name seven layer bars, dream bars, and hello Dolly bars, whew those are a lot of names! The classic bar features a graham crust with layers of pecans, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut. The best part of these type of bars? There are endless variations! Depending on your taste preferences, the season, or the occasion, you can mix them up however you’d like!
Allow me to introduce you to caramel apple magic bars…
The star of any batch of magic bars is the beauty that is sweetened condensed milk.
Take milk, strip out the water, add sugar, and voila! Sweetened condensed milk… sweet, creamy, delicious sweetened condensed milk.
I don’t know about you, but the holidays can make even the most organized, type-A person (ahem, me) feel totally scattered and like time is constantly ticking down. Throw in a toddler and 13-month old, and the feeling just exacerbates. I’ve talked about it here a number of times since having Dominic last year, but I’ve really tried to do a better job of giving myself grace, especially when the situation can easily allow for it.
Which is exactly why I have teamed up with Eagle Brand this holiday season to bring you recipes that are uncomplicated and allow you to stress less and focus more on the reason for the holidays in the first place – to surround ourselves with friends and family and enjoy some special time.
Eagle Brand has launched the Uncookie Exchange, which encourages home bakers to embrace desserts other than cookies, recipes that are simpler and take less time, so you have more time available for the things that really matter. This sentiment has my name ALL OVER IT.
So… hello, bar cookies! No chilling dough, no scooping, no shaping, no rolling or cutting. One bowl and a cutting board is all you need!
I love, love, love how quick and super easy these caramel apple magic bars are to make – just stir together the crust, and then just sprinkle on the ingredients, pour over the sweetened condensed milk, pop into the oven and you have an utterly addicting fall treat.
I’ve never been tempted by candy apples, but caramel apples are an entirely different story. I can’t see one and not buy it, especially if it’s fully loaded – coated in caramel, then in chocolate, maybe drizzled with more chocolate, and rolled in nuts. Seriously AH-mazing. (And now I realize I’ve only had one so far this year and need to amend that immediately.)
I fall into the camp of people (a very small minority, I’m sure) who really don’t care much for pumpkin pie. I’ll eat a small sliver, but it would not bother me one bit if it didn’t show up on the Thanksgiving dessert table. Give me pecan pie, a trifle, or something simple and delicious, like these bars.
Thanksgiving is such a massive food holiday and so much prep work goes into it that giving yourself some grace and baking up these caramel apple magic bars – super easy and a massive crowd pleaser – will get your holiday season started on the right foot!
When planning your holiday dessert menus this year (so many occasions! Friendsgiving… Thanksgiving… Holiday parties… Cookie exchanges… Christmas… New Year’s!), don’t forget to check out the Uncookie Exchange page to see these bars, and dozens more easy and delicious recipes!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Make the Crust: In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened. Turn the mixture out into the prepared pan and press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
Assemble the Bars: On top of the crust, sprinkle the chocolate chips, caramels, chopped apple, and walnuts (in that order). Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the entire mixture. Using the back of a spoon, gently press down on the mixture so that most of it is at least partially submerged in the milk.
Bake the Bars: Bake until the edges of the bars are golden brown and the center is set, about 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the pan, then remove and slice into squares. The bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
You can buy the boxed graham cracker crumbs or crush your own. I find that running them through the food processor makes the best crumbs, versus crushing them with a rolling pin or something similar.
I used Granny Smith apples because I think the tartness contrasts really well with the other sweet components of the bars, but feel free to use your favorite apple, or whatever you have on hand.
While I used walnuts for the recipe, feel free to use whatever nuts you'd like - pecans would be great, too, and if we didn't have a peanut allergy in our house, you can bet that would have been my #1 choice!