Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
These dessert bars are so impressive, and they’ve got something for everyone! With a chocolate chip cookie layer, a walnut caramel layer, and a coconut brownie layer, they’re seriously amazing. This recipe is somewhat involved, but as long as you’re patient with it, it should all turn out great. For those great clean cuts, make sure to not rush letting the bars cool down in the fridge! You can also absolutely make these a day or two ahead of time and store them covered in the fridge. Before serving, I like to let them come to room temperature for the best texture.
Giada's Magic Bars
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
For The Brownie Layer:
- One 21-ounce box brownie mix such as Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
For The 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
For The Caramel Layer:
- Three 9.5-ounce bags soft caramel candies about 90 caramels, such as Kraft Classic, unwrapped
- 2 tablespoons water
- 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 cookie layer.
- 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.