How I spent hours sitting in the shady green-gold corners of my parents’ garden, keeping watch for glittering fairies.
How I baked cookies for Santa to eat after coming down the chimney, because surely he’d be able to squeeze past the wine rack in the fireplace filled with bottles of Chardonnay.
How I looked inside every top hat I came across in search of fluffy white rabbits.
Yes, I’ve spent hours patiently waiting in the garden, but I did so in order that wild Lorikeets and Crimson Rosellas would trust me enough to eat sunflower seeds directly from my hands.
I’d like to think I believed in Santa once, but all I can remember is being very young, opening a Christmas card that said “To Hannah, From Santa”, and saying to my mum “But that’s Grandpa’s handwriting!”
I never fell under the thrall of magicians, but I did once take a Magic Tricks class during school holidays that taught me most “magic” is simply about distracting the audience.
The magic I believe in is the magic of daily life. The sparkling moments of daily life. Unexpected laughing-until-you-cry moments, soul-strengthening connections, age-old friendships, hugs that feel like safety, and the perfume of newness in the air that comes with thunderous rain.
There’s also the magic of baking for a newly-married friend to whom you once delivered engagement brownies. The magic of taking a recipe that seemed not only too sweet for your tastes but also death-creating for your nut-allergic friend, and turning it into a gorgeously shining, golden, complex, layered, fun-for-all-the-family, chewy, crunchy, sweet and enticing Fancypants Magic Bar.
Yes. This is my kind of Magic.
Fancypants Magic Bar
Makes 16 – 24 squares, depending on whether you use the right size tin (ahem). Adapted from a freebie Nestle baking book I found in my cupboard.
- 1 1/2 cups crushed plain sweet biscuits (I used Arnott’s Nice biscuits)
- 75g butter, melted
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup tart dried cherries
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 cup pepitas
- 400g tin Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F), then grease and line an 18cm x 28cm slice tin with baking paper.
- Combine crushed biscuits and butter, then press this mixture into the base of the prepared tin.
- In the following order, sprinkle the dark chocolate chips, cherries, coconut, and pepitas into the tin in turn. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the top.
- Baked for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool in pan, then cut into squares.
Note: I had a nincompoop moment and accidentally used a 20cm square tin. As I couldn’t just tip the mixture from one tin to another, I lowered the oven to 16o°C and baked the slice for 35 minutes, covering with foil at around the 25 minute mark to prevent scorching. And everything came up roses, hurrah! Oh, and for those of you who may not like my high-falutin’ smarmypants ways, the original recipe used milk chocolate, raisins, and almonds in place of the dark chocolate, cherries, and pepitas.
Question time: What kind of magic do you believe in?