Nov 19, 2013

Arabic Sweets (aka Baklava) Magic Bars

Do you ever end up with too many sweets in the house?  You start to shake knowing your willpower has no chance of survival and diabetes will eventually kick in if you don't do a massive sweep of the pantry?  This typically happens to me at the holidays...or any time I open up my freezer.  See I'm baking so often that my husband cannot keep up.  He tries, bless him.  But for the most part everything ends up in the freezer safely kept for guests or anyone willing to take it home.

So after scoring on Halloween, having both our mother's here visiting to see the new baby (coming armed with treats from back home) and my non-stop baking parade...we officially over-dosed on sugar.  My MIL brought us a giant box of Arabic Sweets from Lebanon this past week and I just thought oh God please no.  Arabic Sweets (aka Baklava) are the supreme sweet: crunchy, flakey, gooey, and oh-so-nutty...the ultimate temptation on top of the Willy Wonka sugar-fest I've got happening in the house I knew something had to give.


So what the hell did I do?  I took something so amazingly sweet and amped it up, oh a million.

I guess I figured if I incorporated these sweets into another type of dessert at least they'd be off my counter...and eventually into the freezer.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Magic Bars (also known as Seven Layer Bars) are an American classic.  The recipe is pretty standard but can be easily changed up depending on the season or what you have in the pantry.

The original recipe uses graham cracker crumbs and melted butter for the crust.  In my recipe I swapped out the graham crackers for chopped up Arabic sweets.  Let me tell you it killed me to chop up all those sugar-syrup-sinfuls but it had to be done.  And trust me it was oh-so worth it.  Next up is a layer of sweetened condensed milk that's topped with chocolate chips, walnuts (I used pistachios since they were also used in the Arabic sweets), and coconut.  Bake it off and let the milk do it's magic and what you're left with is heavenly gooey goodness.  They turn out perfect every single time, it's definitely a foolproof recipe.
Seriously you gotta try these.  Revolutionary if you ask me.  I like to think of this recipe as the perfect example of my multi-cultural family.  Half American, half Lebanese...but 100% awesome. 
Arabic Sweets (aka Baklava) Magic Bars
makes about 15 bars
printable version

3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped Arabic sweets (baklava)
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup coconut flakes
1 cup pistachios, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (325 if using a glass dish).  Spray dish with non-stick spray.

Coarsely chop up Arabic sweets (don't use a food processor, by hand is fine.  The crust should be somewhat chunky) and transfer to a medium sized bowl.  Add the melted butter and sugar.  Mix to combine.

Firmly press crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared dish. 

Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crust.  Use a spatula to ensure it reaches the corners and sides of the dish.

Evenly layer the white chocolate chips, coconut, and pistachios over the milk.

Using the back of a fork press down firmly to compact.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  I find these are much easier to cut when cool.  Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.


recipe adapted from Eagle Brand


  1. this is such a fun twist on traditional magic bars. looks delicious!

  2. So innovative, love this! I have the exact same issue as you, way too much sweet food gets baked in my house and then not eaten. Actually never thought to freeze my creatons for a later date so I'm going to try that!