Dude Food Magic Bars

This coming Sunday is Father’s Day, to which I say, psssh. In my house we’re celebrating Father’s Week. If you’re not familiar with this made-up custom, Father’s Week is a magical week when Jason gets a new gift every single day leading up to Father’s Day. This sounds super fancy and over-the-top, until I tell you that for his first gift I gave him a loofah.* All you other fathers out there can stop being jealous now.

*In my defense, it was a nice loofah. And seriously, he wanted a new one one. Just ask him.

If you’re a fella who’s not lucky enough to have a new loofah—a nice loofah—or an entire week devoted to giving you presents, let me be the one to give you the greatest gift of all: Dude Food Magic Bars.

Dude Food Magic Bars | SugarHero.com

Traditional Magic Bars, aka Hello Dolly Bars, aka Seven Layer Bars, are already pretty dude food-y. They’re sweet and gooey and can be made by dumping a bunch of ingredients in a pan and baking it, which I believe is the official Baking Methodology of dudes everywhere. I think Magic Bars are one of the few desserts Jason has ever attempted to make on his own. And maybe he accidentally used rancid nonstick cooking spray, and maybe it took three attempts before they were edible, but dang it—he succeeded. For my baking-challenged husband, that’s a minor miracle.

Dude Food Magic Bars | SugarHero.com

Instead of the usual Magic Bar suspects (grahams, coconut, walnuts, etc) these bars are packed with the manliest of ingredients. The bottom crust is made with crushed pretzels, then they’re layered with crispy bacon, dark chocolate, peanut butter chips, and crushed potato chips, then finally they’re drenched in salted caramel sauce.

It’s like eating a giant stereotype, and it is awesome.

Dude Food Magic Bars | SugarHero.com

 

Now before we go further, I have to say that obviously these are not just for fathers, and they’re not just for menfolk either. I know plenty of women who would love to go to town on a gooey cookie bar packed with salty chips and pretzels, and to them, I say: welcome. Pull up a chair and grab a bib. These bars are equal opportunity deliciousness.

Assembling the bars couldn’t be easier. Once the pretzel crust is packed into the pan, it’s a simple matter of layering all of the ingredients on top of one another, pouring on the caramel sauce, and giving it a quick bake in the oven.

Dude Food Magic Bars | SugarHero.com

In case you’re looking for a close-up of the caramel-soaked bars, I’ve got you covered:

Dude Food Magic Bars | SugarHero.com

After he tasted them, Jason suggested I top the finished bars with a pinch of crumbled potato chips. The other chips, the ones that are baked into the bars, become caramelized and lose their heavy crunch, so sprinkling the bars with fresh chips before serving is like the trashy equivalent of giving your dessert a pinch of fleur de sel—the salt and the crunch really make the flavors in the bars pop.

Dude Food Magic Bars | SugarHero.com

And of course, of course you can customize these with your favorite ingredients. Any sort of nuts would be a great addition. Maybe some chopped candy bars? Your favorite cookies? A dash of cayenne, for heat, or a splash of alcohol in the caramel? Bring it on. Father’s Week isn’t just about nice loofahs and Hallmark cards with jokes about duct tape, you know. It’s also about cramming all of your favorite junk foods into one incredible bar.

Dude Food Magic Bars | SugarHero.com

The final bars are a riot of opposites: sweet and salty, gooey and crunchy, all kinds of complex flavors made from guilty pleasure ingredients. One thing they’re not is photogenic, but hey: It’s dude food. It doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to taste awesome. High five.

Dude Food Magic Bars | SugarHero.com

Recipe Notes: If you’re worried you might not like the flavor of bacon in a dessert, consider cutting the bacon amount by a third or even half. I’m not a bacon eater and I thought the flavor was pretty pronounced. On the other hand, Jason thought the bars were perfect, and he is a bacon appreciator but not a fanatic (he doesn’t even like it on his hamburgers).

Regarding the caramel, I used Trader Joe’s salted caramel sauce for this recipe (if you use TJ’s brand, note that it requires more than one jar), but you can make your own, use another high-quality brand, or substitute dulce de leche sauce instead. Just make sure that the sauce has a free-flowing texture, similar to sweetened condensed milk. Speaking of which, sweetened condensed milk is actually a great substitute if you can’t find caramel sauce or dulce de leche.

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Dude Food Magic Bars

12 strips bacon
5 ounces (about 4 cups) pretzels
4 ounces butter, melted
3 tbsp granulated sugar
6 ounces (1 cup) dark chocolate chips
5.5 ounces (1 cup) peanut butter chips
3.75 ounces (1 cup) crushed ruffled potato chips—from about 2 cups uncrushed
14 ounces (about 1 1/4 cup) salted caramel sauce (store-bought or homemade)

Preheat the oven to 350* F. Line a 9×9-inch pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Fry the bacon until it is crisp, turning often so it cooks evenly. Once crispy, remove the bacon from the pan and place it on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. Once cool, chop into small pieces.

Put the pretzels in a food processor and process them until they are fine crumbs. Combine the pretzel crumbs, melted butter, and sugar in a bowl and toss until the pretzels are moistening and the mixture has the texture of wet sand. Press it onto the bottom of the foil-lined pan in an even layer.

Sprinkle the chopped bacon on top of the pretzels in an even layer, then add the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and crushed potato chips. Pour the salted caramel sauce evenly over the entire pan.

Bake the bars at 350 for 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling on the sides. Let them cool on a wire rack until they’re room temperature. To serve, lift the bars from the pan using the foil as handles, and cut into small squares. (They are easiest to cut when they are cold, but they taste best at room temperature.) If desired, sprinkle with a pinch of crushed potato chips just before serving.

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33 Responses to Dude Food Magic Bars
  1. Oh my goodness.. I may not be a dude, but my mouth is still watering for these! And I think they’re pretty photogenic, that caramel sauce does wonders ;)
    Frida@bakedbyblondie recently posted…Bananabread (laktose-fri, sukker-fri)

  2. My dad would love these bars! But then again what dude wouldn’t? Oh my, so many layers of awesomeness.
    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry recently posted…Blueberry Peach Frozen Yogurt

  3. I’m a vegetarian who usually eats a super clean, low-sugar diet …. and I gotta confess these look phenomenal.
    Erica { EricaDHouse.com } recently posted…What if your ideal body type isn’t ideal?

  4. [...] more desserts, but this one will legit give you 4 cavities. And it looks like it’s worth [...]

  5. Will says:

    MY GOD, WOMAN!!!!

    -must rewrite entire diet book; starting now,…-

    (found you via Neatorama.com)
    Will recently posted…The Failed Cognitive Decline Study -That You Should Pay Attention To Anyway

  6. [...] Dude Food Magic Bars From Sugar Hero! Bacon, pretzels, chocolate, peanut butter, potato chips and caramel. I’m in man food heaven. [...]

  7. Johlene says:

    Elizabeth your blog makes me smile :-D I love your humour, you are so funny!!

    These dude bars look awesome too!

    Regards
    Johlene
    Flavours & Frosting
    Johlene recently posted…Red Velvet in Jars

  8. seriously!!! These look amazing…
    Sarah @ Miss Candiquik recently posted…Chocolate Stout {Guinness} Cake Truffles

  9. So I’m definitely one of those women you talk about that would love to go to town on one of these gooey bars. I’m a fan of all.the.things. you put in there and your suggested add-ins/substitutions have my mind totally spinning with possibility! In short, I’d like a pan to go. Thanks. :)
    Emily {Pink Tiger in the Kitchen} recently posted…triple b brownies

  10. Robin says:

    Neatorama led me here and I was enraptured! Went to the grocery last night to pick up some bacon, Ruffles and pretzels… I had baking to do!

    Unfortunately my attempt was not magical at all. =(

    I blame my less-than-saucy dulce de leche sauce. While I heart, heart, heart Trader Joe’s; because they don’t live in my state, I had to substitute. Since I had some dulce de leche on hand, I figured that I could use that as my sauce base instead of making the caramel sauce linked in the recipe.

    Unfortunately MY caramel sauce was thicker than it needed to be and didn’t seep through the layers at all, but rather just sat on top – even after baking. The final result was more of a strata-ed crumble than a delicious, gooey bar. My question to you, oh Captain, my Captain, is this: What should the consistency of the caramel sauce be? Thicker than maple syrup? Thinner than corn syrup? I would really like to try this recipe again. These look too delicious for me to not attempt this once more.

    Thanks!

    Oh, and the flavors were great! I could tell they would really work well together once the caramel was melted throughout. =)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Robin, I already replied to you via email, but thought I would leave a comment too in case others have the same problem. The caramel sauce you use should flow freely and have the texture of corn syrup or sweetened condensed milk. I’ve successfully used Nestle La Lechera brand dulce de leche in this recipe, but if that’s not available, regular sweetened condensed milk will also work as an alternative. (Note that this is *not* the same as evaporated milk!) Please let me know how the bars turn out if you give them another try! :)

      • Robin says:

        Success!!!

        I used Nestle brand La Lechera in the can and then both thinned & heated it to the proper consistency and it behaved ever so much better than my first batch.

        The bars were absolutely delicious and got rave reviews all around.

        Thank you for a great recipe and the extra bit of assistance! =)

  11. Liz says:

    These looks mouthwatering Elizabeth! My husband doesn’t think he’d like the bacon in them (even though he loves bacon), but I’ll make them and he’ll love them! I just know he will! :)
    Liz recently posted…Rhubarb Crumble Bars

    • Elizabeth says:

      Husbands never know what’s good for them! (And by good, I mean good-tasting, not healthy…no, these are definitely not healthy.)

  12. These sounds like the most amazing bars ever! And I have to disagree with you – they are actually very photogenic! Drool-inducing for sure!
    Lindsay @ Life, Love and Sugar recently posted…Man Food for Father’s Day!

  13. [...] Okay, Elizabeth LaBau is giving her husband something special for Father’s Day this year. A special concoction of [...]

  14. JeniQ says:

    Four ounces of butter… Is that one stick?

  15. [...] Dude Food Magic Bars takes the concept of the divine Seven-Layer Bars and goes nuts (though without any nuts): pretzels, bacon, dark chocolate, peanut butter chips, potato chips, and salted caramel. Oy! Via. [...]

  16. Wes says:

    Made these over the weekend and they were fantastic!! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Arlo says:

    Liz – I’m so excited to make these for our girls quilting day tomorrow! I say NAY to “Dude Food” this is categorically “Goddess Goodies”!

  18. [...] Dude Food Magic Bars From Sugar Hero! Bacon, pretzels, chocolate, peanut butter, potato chips and caramel. I’m in man food heaven. [...]

  19. Laura says:

    I think these are plenty photogenic! Love the bacon and potato chips! Pinning now….
    Laura recently posted…Tongass Forest Cookies

  20. CiCi says:

    I can’t say they aren’t photogenic! They look ooey-gooey goody! And they had my mouth watering. No kidding!

  21. Claire says:

    These look amazing! Could the recipe be doubled and made in a 9×13 pan, or is it best to just do two separate batches? My boyfriend’s birthday is tomorrow and we’re expecting a large group- I KNOW everyone will want a bite :)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Claire! You can definitely double it for a 9×13. You’ll probably want to adjust the baking time–my guess is it will take a little longer to cook. I can’t say exactly how long, but I’d just keep an eye on it and check every few minutes after 20 until it’s golden brown and bubbling. Happy birthday to your boyfriend!! Hope you guys love them. :)

  22. Kristen says:

    I just made these today and OMG. First I love the sweet and salty combo and well bacon makes everything better. I just let them cool a bit before trying a piece and the first few chews you are trying to figure it all out but then you are in Heaven with the mixture of flavors and textures. This is delish! I am tempted to next time put a sprinkle of sea salt on the top. Great recipe to feed not just the dudes but the chicks too.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Kristen, So glad you loved them! Agreed that a sprinkle of salt on top would be perfect–now you have me wanting to make them again. :) Thanks for the comment!

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