Less is more, they say. But listen, sometimes more is more. For example, one cookie would be less and two cookies would be more and you see where I'm going with this. Or, to put it another way, sparkling wine alone would be less but a measure of St-Germain and lemon juice and simple syrup and a sprig of mint and a splash of seltzer water topped with sparkling wine would be more.
In many areas of life, I'm trying to learn to simplify and appreciate less. Less noise, less stimulation, less instant gratification. Less need for other people to build me up. Fewer hours in front of a screen.
And instead of focusing on cutting things out, I would rather try and crowd them out naturally by adding more of the good things. More hand-holding. More music that makes me dance without meaning to dance. More days spent in bare feet. Drinking more water. More sunscreen. More late evening swims. More vegetables. More building myself up on my own. More laughing until my stomach hurts. More chubby baby thighs in my hands. More hugs with my dad. More fresh flowers. More time spent watching the pigs roll about in the mud.
In that spirit of more, let's talk baking.
Chocolate, or coconut, or a graham cracker-y cookie would all be less on their own. But together, bound by the sticky sweetness of condensed milk, they form a perfectly crunchy yet gooey bar cookie that will make you the star of any dinner party or summer picnic. This version of a magic cookie, or seven-layer bar (as they are often known), is one of my favorites as it's less cloyingly sweet than most. I use unsweetened coconut in addition to sweetened coconut to add more texture and less sugar and altogether the effect is excellent and a real crowd-pleaser, regardless of whether you're serving four year olds or forty year olds.
Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars
makes one 9" x 13" pan
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped toasted nuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Melt the butter and pour it into the pan, swirling to cover the pan evenly. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the butter in an even layer.
Pour the condensed milk over the graham crackers in an even layer.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips in an even layer over the condensed milk. Next, add the chopped nuts (in an even layer) and then both types of coconut. Press down with a fork.
Bake the bars for about 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and serving.