Magic Bars

Total Time:
4 hr 20 min
25 min
3 hr
55 min

24 bars

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • Brownie Layer:
  • One 21-ounce box brownie mix, such as Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • Cookie Layer:
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
  • Caramel:
  • Three 9.5-ounce bags soft caramel candies (about 90 caramels), such as Kraft Classic
  • Caramels, unwrapped
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dishes with cooking spray. Line each dish with a 15-inch-square piece of parchment paper, allowing the excess to overhang the sides. Spray the parchment with cooking spray.

For the brownie layer: In a large bowl, blend together the brownie mix, vegetable oil, 1/4 cup water, espresso powder and eggs. Using a hand mixer, beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Pour the batter into one of the prepared pans. Sprinkle with the coconut and bake until a toothpick inserted about 1 inch from the edge of the baking dish comes out clean, 25 to 27 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.

Using the excess parchment paper as handles, lift the brownie layer from the pan. Run a thin spatula underneath to loosen it from the parchment paper. Keep the oven on.

For the cookie layer: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg. Add the flour mixture and beat until a dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using your fingers, press the dough evenly into the bottom of the other prepared baking dish, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Bake until light golden, 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the walnuts over the crust.

For the caramel: In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the caramel candies, 2 tablespoons water and vanilla over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the candies have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 10 minutes. Pour the caramel evenly over the cookie layer. Working quickly, place the brownie layer on top of the caramel. Gently press the brownie layer into the caramel. Refrigerate for 1 hour until the caramel has set. Allow the layers to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Cut into 24 bars and store airtight in a plastic container.

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3.8 14
I am a HUGE fan of Giada... she literally is my idol lol I make her recipes all the time and they are always a hit, unfortunately this one wasn't. This recipe left me very disapointed! It was sooooo chewy that I wouldn't serve to my guests and ended up throwing out. It took a while to prepare and wasn't cheap so I was def bummed at how it turned out. I love caramel but this was just too much! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I made these bars for Easter and again for Thanksgiving. Huge hit! I did not add coconut, however next time I think I will try using some. I did not have expresso, so I used instant coffee. It is a little time consuming, but worth it!! I would start this recipe early in the day so that it will come to room temperature before cutting and serving. Thanks Giada! item not reviewed by moderator and published
These were a big hit! I made them exactly as it is written except omitted the coconut because my husband doesn't like it. They came out perfectly. It was a little time consuming, but they were delicious. As it says, wait to eat until the caramel has come to room temperature after the refrigerator step or you could break a tooth! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I think that they need to check this recipe. Water is NOT mentioned for either the carmel or the brownies but is in the directions. As for the cookie base, I think it didn't have enough flour. Mine was very puffy, with a large gap between the top and bottom-looked like a souffle and ended up almost like toffee- maybe it should just be baking soda? I have used many of Giada's recipes, and they have been great, till this one. It was an expensive mistake. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Didn't work for me.... item not reviewed by moderator and published
WOW! These are amazing, made mine without the coconut. Very good, but a little one goes a long ways. Great for sharing with a crowd. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Very good. I love chocolate chip cookies so I made it twice differently, one with the brownie and cookie layer and another one with two choc chip cookie layers. It's sooo good. item not reviewed by moderator and published
OMG, these are heavenly. made recipe as is except no expresso and 1c coconut. better to make day ahead so the caramel sets. might use less caramel next time, but not much. i am on a diet, so this is my splurge for the day . 1 piece is 432 calories, 20 fat. per my calculation. worth the treat.. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Note to users: there's two versions of this recipe. One has a chocolate dough cookie crust and the other is a more traditional vanilla dough crust. A fun recipe to try but ingredients are costly and it makes a TON of bars. Not ideal for hot weather, as the caramel gets everywhere! I would increase the baking time for the cookie crust by at least four minutes so that you get less crumbling. item not reviewed by moderator and published
These bars were amazing. Everybody loved them. They are very filling, practically a meal within themselves so I cut them a little bigger than a bite size but I have already been asked to make them again. Delicious Giada!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
These bars were good. I have to remember though that I'm honestly not too much a fan of brownies so that's probably why I didn't care much for them. They make a lot, and using Duncan Hines, I noticed the brownies fell apart. This was even after I let them refrigerate and come to room temperature. I don't really know if I will make them again. The only thing I really loved about the entire recipe was making the caramel sauce. It was really easy. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This dessert was a big hit. Plus, it looks impressive. I didn't have time to put it in the fridge for an hour. Turned out just fine without it. YUM! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Very good. I had trouble cutting them into nice bars because the caramel layer was too thick. I will do this one again, but with less caramel. item not reviewed by moderator and published
They were delicious! HEAVEN! item not reviewed by moderator and published
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