Cherry Almond Magic Bars – one of the easiest cookie bar recipe of all time gets a festive flavour twist with glacé cherries and tasty toasted almonds.
These Cherry Almond Magic bars are the latest example of how you can take the basic recipe for this long tome favourite and make it your own. This version takes glace or maraschino cherries, toasted almonds and a little almond extract to make a festive version for the holidays or year round.
There is no secret as to why magic bars are so very popular. A few simple ingredients, simply layered and baked was how I first knew the recipe many years ago when I was still a kid. It seemed everyone made them and they probably still do from the original recipe.
As I recall the original recipe was actually on the inside of the label of the Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk. If I remember correctly, the origin was the same for a sightly different version of Strawberry Chiffon Squares.
Those bright pink, fluffy dessert squares were an absolute childhood favourite of all the kids in my family and of our cousins in our extended family. We still make them every Christmas.
Do they still print recipes on the back of can labels these days? I don’t think I’ve noticed. Must check next time; there might be something equally as good there these days.
One of the things I like about the simplicity of Magic Bars is switching up the ingredients. I’ve used white chocolate chips instead of dark, pecans instead of walnuts, added dried cranberries or cherries; all sorts of things will work.
Since the Holidays have rolled around again, I decided to add bright glacé cherries to the recipe and I toasted some almonds to add too. There has always been almond extract used in Newfoundland Cherry Cake which is so popular at Christmas time, so I added that in as a nod to flavours of the season.
The Cherry Almond magic Bars turned out deliciously and are now sitting in my freezer to enjoy for Christmas in a couple of weeks. Their freezer-friendly nature is one more reason you’ll want to add these to your Holiday baking list.
Like this Cherry Almond Magic Bars recipe?
Be sure to browse the photo index of over 200 cookie and cookie bar recipes is in our expansive Cookies Category.
To keep up with the latest home style cooking & baking ideas from Rock Recipes plus daily recipe suggestions from decadent desserts to quick delicious weekday meals, be sure to follow Rock Recipes Facebook Page and follow us on Instagram Instagram.
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1¼ cups dried unsweetened coconut medium or fine cut
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk 300 ml Canada (14 oz can US)
- 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped almonds
- 1 cup chopped glacé cherries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for glass bakeware).
First choose the size of pan you prefer. The bars in the photo are baked in a 9x9 pan because I like them thicker but if you prefer these can be baked in a 9x13 pan for thinner bars. (see note)
Lightly grease the pan and line it with parchment paper.
Mix together the graham crumbs, sugar and butter and press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Hold back a handful of cherries and almonds to sprinkle on top at the end if you like. It does make them look a little brighter on the plate.
Mix together the sweetened condensed milk, cherries, almonds, coconut, vanilla extract and almond extract until well combined.
Spread evenly over the base layer.
Finally sprinkle on the reserved nuts and cherries and press down lightly.
The 9x9 pan will bake for 45-50 minutes and the 9x13 pan for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Cool completely in the pan before cutting in bars or squares.
I prefer to mix all of the ingredients together rather than putting them down in layers as was the original magic bars recipe and I bake them in a 9x9 pan so that they are thicker and always bake to a chewy texture. It is a matter of preference, I suppose but I've always had better success using this method.
The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.