Amid all the holiday baking just for fun, I also had a few functions to bake for - a holiday party at work and a band concert for my boys (the oldest play saxophone and the youngest, percussion). Bar cookies are always an easy choice when you need to bake a large quantity quickly, but choosing which bar is always hard! I decided to go back to an old favorite from childhood that I hadn't made in quite a while - Magic Bars. Or Seven-Layer Bars, whichever you prefer. One pan for each function and I was done.
This time I tried a recipe from The New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated. They make several suggestions on how to make these just right. For one, they have you line the pan with parchment or aluminum foil. While this did make the bars pretty easy to lift out and then cut (I don't like cutting bars in the pan), a small amount of the butter tended to seep underneath the aluminum foil and could not be mixed into the graham crumbs. Since it did make cutting the bars easier, I would definitely recommend using the parchment or foil, but next time I would mix the butter and crumbs in separate dish and then press into the pan.
These were quite good, but something was missing. For one, the walnuts did not come through and nuts are an important part of this recipe in my opinion, so definitely more walnuts next time. One thing I really appreciated was that the crust held together nicely and did not crumble apart as I was cutting which can be a real problem with some graham cracker crusts. Again, these were good, but they didn't make me swoon as much as they have in the past. I'll have to dig up my old recipe and compare the two.
The baking is not finished yet. I have a few things to bake this week and one more cookie to finish this weekend. Stay tuned........