Magic Bars and a Tate’s Bake Shop Giveaway!

I can be kind of a trainwreck sometimes. I don’t mean a lose-my-pencil or knock-over-my-milk trainwreck (although I can be those too). I mean a National Lampoon trainwreck.

Christmastime always reminds me of this fact, mostly because of something that happened a few years ago. My parents had decided to travel to South Korea for the holiday to visit my sister, who was living there at the time. I was sullen about having to spend Christmas alone, and on top of that, I had been appointed petsitter.

Magical, magical Magic Bars

Everything would have been okay if this position merely entailed taking care of my parents’ toy poodle, Abbey, who — while getting crotchety in her old age — is still a little scoop o’ sweetness. But no. Petsitting meant taking care of the dog, the finch, the very animated Roomba, and THE RABBIT.

THE RABBIT, y’all, who — I KID YOU NOT — eats two freshly made salads per day. I don’t even eat two freshly made salads per day! Or, uh, even one freshly made salad per day.

THE RABBIT, who snuggles and kisses everyone EXCEPT ME, because he hates my guts.

THE RABBIT, who attacks me whenever I’m within range.

THE RABBIT, who was THIS CLOSE to being turned into a stew and not making it out of the experience alive.

Don’t worry — no rabbit in the Magic Bars.

It was clear from the very beginning that this was going to be an interesting week, but I had no idea what kind of shenanigans were in store for me. I thought the worst of my troubles was THE RABBIT. Not even close. Because:

1. In the middle of one of my first nights at my parents’ house, I woke up to a waterfall raining down from the living room ceiling. There was apparently a leak in an upstairs bathroom. Over the next few days, what started as a tiny crack in the downstairs ceiling became a gaping hole.

2. The Roomba stopped working after a few days. It already required daily maintenance to manually clean out the gobs of bunny hair it had to consume, but halfway through the week, it gave up the ghost. I barely fiddled with it before giving up, which meant being buried in bunny fluff the rest of the week. It was EVERYWHERE. Covering every article of clothing, stuck in my eyelashes, garnishing every bite of food.

3. Abbey decided to start spontaneously bleeding from her head midweek, staining the couch and sheets. Still no idea what happened there.

4. Speaking of Abbey, she and Byrd (my toy poodle) were mortal enemies all week long. Byrd likes to pester Abbey. Abbey wishes Byrd would fall into a hole and get swallowed by the earth. This makes for interesting interactions, including what I like to call “the great potty war,” during which each dog was determined to out-pee the other.

5. That $#@*% RABBIT attacked me and almost broke my hand as I was cleaning up his gross cage. Apparently he’s territorial about his hay. Noted.

6. The bird died. IT JUST UP AND DIED. I promise I fed it, watered it, milleted it, cooed at it, kept the temperature steady. Mom later assured me that it was an old bird. At this point I kind of felt like telling her that she was an old bird. Just kidding, Mom. Love you!

7. The day had finally arrived when I was supposed to pick my parents up from the airport after school. Everything was going to be okay! I was on my way to work, gleeful at the prospect of leaving the demolished ceiling, bleeding dog, dead bird, and vicious Monty Pythonesque bunny behind — when I totaled my car. TOTALED. Some dude pulled out in front of me leaving me no room to stop, and bang! Cue the airbags, the traffic jam, the police report, etc.

All of this occurred without a reliable way of contacting my parents since they were, you know, across the globe and all. I picked them up from the airport that night in Mike’s car, and I’ll bet you can imagine how well that went: “Hi guys. Your ceiling’s destroyed, your bird is dead, your house is one giant furball, your dog may or may not still be bleeding, and I just totaled my car. How was your trip?”

Anyway, I can be a trainwreck of epic proportions. That’s why when I received a copy of Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook to review a few weeks ago and promptly failed at the first recipe I made from it, I knew I needed to give it another go.

My first try was the Lemon Wafers. They’re described as “cake like,” but mine were thin, crisp, and burnt around the edges. They still tasted amazing (I may or may not have eaten half a batch by myself), but they were quite the ugly ducklings. With no photographs of some of the recipes, it was hard to decide how they were supposed to look; nevertheless, I’m pretty sure they weren’t supposed to look like that.

I’m so glad I tried again, because the next recipe was a winner. Magic Bars consist of pecans, bittersweet chocolate, and coconut bound by sweetened condensed milk on a graham cracker crust. They were so simple and quick to make, but were definitely magical! I took them to a crafting party (I feel so hip to have gone to a crafting party – did you see how deftly I slid that tidbit into this post? Am I ruining it now? Oh.) and they were a huge hit.

Pocket Review

Book Stats: 156 pages, $25.99 list price (~$18 on Amazon), indexed.
Accessibility: Perfect for a beginning baker!
Examples of Recipes: Mocha Pecan Muffins, Ginger Scones, Zvi’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Double Chocolate Almond Cookies, Peanut Butter Squares, Apple Cream Cheese Tart, Hummingbird Cake, Raspberry Charlotte, etc.
Overall Impression: I love the simplicity and accessibility of the recipes, but I would’ve preferred more photos — particularly to see how things were supposed to turn out.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Kathleen King, the author of the cookbook and owner of Tate’s Bake Shop in the Hamptons, has received recognition from Ina Garten, Everyday with Rachael Ray, The Gourmet Retailer, and The Boston Globe for her simple handmade treats. The cookbook is filled with easy, accessible recipes perfect for whipping up at a moment’s notice. In addition, the lovely folks at Tate’s sent me some buttery, thin and crisp cookies to sample. I loved them, and can’t wait to make some of the famous chocolate chip cookies to share with family.

Would you like to try some Tate’s Bake Shop goodies? One Willow Bird Baking reader will win a gift-pack of cookies including oatmeal raisin, white chocolate macadamia nut, and chocolate chip, as well as a copy of the Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook. To enter, leave a comment on this post answering the question, “What’s your favorite cookie?” To receive up to three extra entries:

1. Become a fan of Tate’s Bake Shop on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did so (or if you’re already a fan, just say so in your comment!)
2. Become a fan of Willow Bird Baking on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did so (or if you’re already a fan, just say so in your comment!)
3. Tweet about the giveaway using this message: “Just entered to win a Tate’s Bake Shop gift pack and cookbook at Willow Bird Baking! Enter here: @julieruble” and leave a separate comment telling me you did so.

This contest will run through December 28, 2010 at noon EST, but even if you don’t win, you can still enjoy some cookies! Tate’s Bake Shop is offering a 15% discount for Willow Bird Baking readers on from now until December 31. Just use the code “cookie” at checkout. Enjoy!

Magic Bars

Recipe by: Kathleen King of Tate’s Bake Shop
Yield: 24 bars

1/2 cup salted butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/3 cups dessicated shaved coconut (unsweetened)
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chunks (I use Ghirardelli)
1 1/4 cups pecans, chopped
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a 9 x 13 inch pan, mix the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs. Press the mixture evenly to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the coconut over the crumb base. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks over the coconut. Sprinkle the pecans over the chocolate chunks. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top. Bake it for 25 minutes. Cool it completely and cut it into bars. I like these magic bars served cold.

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Filed under cookies

81 responses to “Magic Bars and a Tate’s Bake Shop Giveaway!

  1. Oh good God, you just gave me a coughing fit I was laughing so hard during this post. Julie, you are a massive trainwreck… but that’s why I adore you πŸ˜€

    Hope the third attempt from the cookbook is a success, too! If only I could enter the give-away, but sadly location negates this. Good luck to everybody, though!

    Jax x

  2. My favorite all-time favorite cookie is the triple chocolate chunk. Chocolate cookie with dark chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. Oh it’s heaven. Chocolate-y heaven.

  3. i became a fan on facebook

  4. my favorite cookies are really quality chocolate chip cookes, boring, but oh so good. your week sounds unreal… if i were you i would have overdosed on magic bars

  5. Wow! That trumps any and all Christmas’s from hell! So funny! I hope this Christmas is better than that one. Maybe you should have rabbit stew. πŸ™‚

  6. Snickerdoodles! πŸ™‚ I declared that the other week.

  7. Just tweeted.
    SO funny you call it the “Monty Pythonesque bunny ” I was thinking exactly that at point 5 lol. What a horrible ordeal!! No more pet sitting… at least not for evil bunnies πŸ˜‰

  8. Nicole

    Fan and retweeted

  9. Rachel

    molasses spice! omg! to die for!

  10. Rachel

    I’m a Tate’s fan on facebook now!

  11. Oh my! That honestly sounds like the worst holiday ever. have your parents since vowed never to go away during the holidays again? I hope this year is happy and healthy… for all involved!

    I love a million different kinds of cookies… favorite I’m thinking of at this moment: oatmeal white chocolate cranberry.

  12. Lisa

    I LOVE Magic Bars (except I use walnuts in mine). They are so good with coffee. MMMMM. The last time I made them, I used peanut butter chips because I was too lazy to go to the store and they were good but nothing beats the original.

    My favorite cookie is a hard one. I really like a good, old-fashioned sugar cookie but also like decadent rich cookies like the Caramel Delights/Samoas the Girl Scouts sell. Oh, and shortbread, can’t forget that!

    I just love cookies. πŸ˜€

  13. Jamie

    That = VH1’s Worst Week Ever. Omg.

    And Magic Bars really *are* the easiest recipe! Even I make them! And so delish!

  14. You could definitely write a script for a holiday disaster movie! I hope this Christmas goes better. Merry Christmas!

  15. Nicole

    I tweeted about the giveway!!!

  16. What a holiday you had!!! You make me laugh the way you write about it! I think my favorite cookies are raspberry thumb print cookies, however those magic bars look pretttty amazing!

  17. I have already “liked” tate’s bake shop on facebook…

  18. I, as you know, am already a fan of you on facebook πŸ™‚

  19. Tweeted! Ok… so I think this is the first contest that I entered that I finally got all the posts right πŸ™‚ ❀

  20. Lisa

    My favorite are plain old sugar cookies, frosted and decorated with the tiny little ball sprinkles. Nothing else can beat it.
    I’m also a fan of yours on facebook πŸ™‚

  21. Ohmygosh I almost fell out of my chair and choked on the water I was trying to drink. This was flippin funny. The whole darn thing. I mean with the dogfight, dead finch, and the bunny — ugh bunnies terrify me. Really. I mean they’re all twitchy and have ear funk weirdness. I’m glad you made it out alive.
    (Oh, I have the cookbook so pass me by in the giveaway please mam. I’m not greedy.)

  22. What an ordeal! That sounds like the worst Christmas ever!

    These magic bars look wonderful πŸ™‚

  23. Maureen

    I like the kitchen sink cookies that I make.

    What an ordeal you have gone through.

  24. Kim

    Thanks for the laugh this morning, Julie! Maybe that wasn’t your intention…but I’m one of those people who can’t help but chuckle when people slip & fall (unharmed), so I found your post very humorous! Hope you have a more “uneventful” Christmas this year! Love ya!

  25. TZel

    Very funny post about THE RABBIT!!!
    Oh, and I love cranberry chocolate chips.

  26. I don’t want to enter into the giveaway since I have eaten enough Tate’s cookies in the past few weeks to last me a lifetime but I have to say, I LOVE this post! I mean, not LOVE because damn you had one seriously hard week. But it was just so comical because I knew you obviously got through it all alive. By the skin of your teeth. But alive nonetheless. i guess when it rains it pours.

    Magic bars – delicious. Yet another recipe to try from that cookbook. And my waist just keeps on expanding…

  27. My favorite cookie, is my mom’s chocolate chip cookies. She has a secret recipe that she refuses to share with anyone. Every holiday she makes a large batch and my brother and I fight to get the cookies!! πŸ™‚

  28. I am a follower of Tate’s Bake Shop on Facebook!

  29. I “liked” Willow Bird Baking on Facebook!!

  30. My favorite cookie is a ginger molasses cookie. πŸ™‚ Magic cookie bars are good too- yours look yummy! I hope you have a lovely Christmas- it will have to be better than the pet-sitting one!

  31. Lindsey W.B.

    Don’t worry, I’m a bit of a trainwreck myself. The clumsy stressed out kind.

    I think my favorite cookie would have to be warm and gooey chocolate chunk cookies with lots of brown sugar and dark chocolate πŸ˜€

  32. Sounds like you need to have a day off after all that!!!

    My favorite cookie is anything with peanut butter and chocolate chips in it!

  33. Favorite cookie? Such a tough one. It’s a tie between my mom’s pumpkin walnut cookies with brown sugar icing and my dad’s monster cookies.

  34. Gabe

    That week sounded horrible. It confirmed why I’m not an animal person. My all time favorite cookie is White Macadamia Nut. I’m a fan of WBB on fb.

  35. Gabe

    I’m a fan of tate’s bake shop

  36. Vivian

    Ha Ha…. from an “Old Bird” to a “massive Train Wreck”… Laura may go far away again (like to China!!) and we may need you to house/bunny-sit/again! At least there are no birds this time… 😦 Sorry you had such a time of it!

  37. Mary Red

    We are pet-sitting this week. My sister’s three dogs are a piece of cake compared to your parents’ menagerie. My favorite cookie is an extra spicy gingersnap.

  38. omg-I’m CRYING I’m laughing so hard!!! That is one of the funniest stories I’ve read in awhile! You can’t make stuff like that up! I’m sure it was not even remotely funny at the time -especially your wreck- but what a story! Glad you’re ok and you survived your week from hell! Favorite cookie?? hmmmm. anything without gluten that actually tastes like a cookie! Have a great Christmas!!

  39. Debra Disney-Dior

    I must admit, I belong to a LOT of blogs. I visit them daily, and I must admit, sometimes they blur together. That’s NOT a bad thing because each one warms my heart and I log off with a smile on my face. Honestly, I must admit, with all the blogs I pour over, I get very confused, and that has nothing to do with me being a blonde. Also, I find myself saying the words, “I must admit” a LOT! Anyway, a few minutes ago, I was happily reading along — at a good clip and retaining EVERY word I read. During the week, I SKIP over the photos. HORRORS! I save those for weekend viewing, so I can take my time and savor them. I adore looking at photos — especially those that focus on food. Today, I just HAPPENED to linger over your photos. OMG! When my eyes scanned the photo of your Browned Butter Pumpkin Croquemcake with White Chocolate Chai Mousse I jumped out of my chair and FLEW around the room — with my arms flapping wildly. OMG! Sensory OVERLOAD! As soon as my mind could put 2 and 2 together, I was “over the moon. “YOU” are the creator of the most BEAUTIFUL confection in the world! The girl that I lost my heart to on “Project Food Blog!” The picture brought it all together for me. I rarely pay attention to names. I apologize, but I don’t. Julie, how did I NOT know, after reading your blog for a LONG time, that you are the person who inspired me to race out and purchase a Tasty-Fill Cake Pan, and hope against hope that I could duplicate your masterpiece with my own towering mass of snowballs and snowflakes that would evoke an avalanche of emotions in all who looked at it? I’m a dreamer. I haven’t taken the pans out of the box yet. 😦 Someday I want Aunt Beaut’s Fried Chicken. It looks to sigh for!
    Please enter me in the Tate’s giveaway! I’d LOVE to win and I PROMISE to open the box!

    PS…I’m SO happy you didn’t make stew!

  40. Oatmeal raising….Tate’s are the best….I am a fan on Facebook and all that stuff.
    Your story, even thought at the time was not funny, I had a good laugh…sorry
    You are just too cute!

  41. My favorite cookie is peanut butter cookies
    Flophasit at yahoo dot com

  42. Victoria Lester

    I LIKE Tates Bake Shop on facebook – I’m victoria liester
    flophasit at yahoo dot com
    entry 1

  43. Victoria Lester

    I LIKE Willow Bird Baking on facebook – I’m victoria liester
    flophasit at yahoo dot com
    entry 1

  44. just became a fan of Tate’s. thx for the chance to win! think I’m already a fan of yours, but will check to make sure!

  45. yup, just verified that I’m a fan of Willow Bird. thx!

  46. Lisa

    Loved this post and am set to try your croissant challenge over the holidays! My favorite cookie is anything with loads of icing-especially if there are chocolate chips or pecans involved…

  47. emily

    My favorite cookies are either chocolate chip with cinnamon or peanut butter kiss.

  48. Mmmm…I have a HUGE sweet tooth (which is why I love your blog so much). I guess if I had to pick a favorite at this moment, it would be a buckeye (peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate). Yum!

  49. Kat

    Molasses cookies rock my world! Except that time I decided to microwave the jar to get the last little bit out…and ended up purchasing a new microwave.

  50. You crack me up! I remember the hair…oh, the hair. I miss my bunny 😦
    My favorite cookie is Ina’s chocolate white chocolate cookies. totally yummy!

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas Julie.

    Blessings to you,

  51. My goodness! hope things are getting back to normal, that is too much drama… I LOVE magic cookie bars. We make them sometimes with butterscotch chips in addition to the chocolate ones. YUM YUM. Would love to try some Tate’s magic πŸ™‚

  52. ashley

    my favorite cookie is chocolate chocolate chip!

  53. ashley

    i am now a fan of willowbird baking on facebook!

  54. ashley

    and now i am a fan of tates bake shop on facebook too!!

  55. Lisa

    Your train wreck story had my mom and I (Ava) cracking up. Remind me to tell you about the time she burnt up a car. You guys are truly two peas in a pod. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

  56. bentley1530

    I love all kinds of cookies, including magic cookie bars which I used to make to give a gifts when I was a kid. Currently my favorite cookie is peanut butter bars which are a homemade version of peanut butter cups. So easy to make and very yummy.

  57. Oh my gosh girl! That week alone, house/pet sitting sounds like a nightmare! But glad you made it through! I’m definitely a simple chocolate chip cookie kind of gal!

  58. Cat from Measuring Spoons

    Wow, I love Tate’s cookies, and I had no idea there was a cookbook. I’d love to snag that stuff! The chocolate chip ones are what turned me on to crispy chippers.

  59. Cat from Measuring Spoons

    I tweeted for another chance to win. πŸ™‚

  60. Cat from Measuring Spoons

    Became a fan of Willow Bird Baking on FB!

  61. Cat from Measuring Spoons

    Became a fan of Tate’s on FB, too. πŸ™‚

  62. Wow, that sounds like the worst Christmas EVER! My favorite cookie is probably these orange chocolate pinwheels I make. They are really good πŸ™‚

  63. I’m a fan of Willow Bird Baking on Facebook!

  64. I love white chocolate macadamia cookies=))

  65. I’m a fan of Tate’s on Facebook!

  66. I’m a fan of Willow Bird Baking on Facebook!

  67. COFFEE …my fave has to be coffee cookies. Good heavens. I read your lifes drama and my jaw dropped. Thank God for Mikes car… your poor folks! EGAD!! Love these magic Bars {after all the drama almost forgot about them}. Simple yet exciting=YUM!!

  68. ‘LIKED’ Willow Bird too! Now to sit & dream of the cookbook!

  69. gatheraroundthetable

    Hysterical story! Thanks for the post-Christmas laughs. πŸ™‚

    “liked” Tate’s on FB…and am now hungry for cookies.

  70. gatheraroundthetable

    And “liked” WBB on FB…so now I’ll be hungry for cookies/cakes on a daily-newsfeed basis! πŸ™‚

  71. What a difficult question. Right now I am obsessed with molasses cookies.

  72. I’m already a fan of Tate’s on facebook

  73. Also a fan of you on facebook.

  74. And I just realized the contest is over. Sad.

  75. Spontaneous cranial bleeding?! Awesome. Simply awesome. I pet sat for a friend’s very old Doberman. Fortunately, he waited until they came home before he died. I feel your pain! lol

  76. Oh no!!! What a horrible week that must have been for you! I’m glad YOU made it out alive though! Those bars look yummy!

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