Secrets of a Bahama Mama

My holiday gift to you

Ahhh, the holidays are upon us.   A time when we look around us towards the people we are grateful for, the ones who make our lives special.  We like to thank these people in our lives with a gift.  For myself, I am grateful to all of you, my fabulous readers.  You support me.  To quote Tom Cruise back when he was still somewhat cool, “you complete me.”

Not completely but you know the holidays make us all sappy.

Anyway, I would love to give you a gift.  But what?  I can’t afford to mail all of you something and to be honest, I’m so freaking tired just the thought of that is making me run and hide under my bedcovers.

Then it occurred to me, I could give you my secret skill, the secret to the only thing I know how to make.

They’re called Bahama Bars.

Should you be interested and read on, you will find that you recognize Bahama Bars as something else, perhaps as 7 layer bars even though there are only 4 layers or Magic Cookie Squares.

Here’s the history-

Back in the seventies my mom found this recipe in one of her lady’s magazines and she made them.  They didn’t have a name then. Since there is coconut in them and it was a brutally cold December, coconut made her think of a warm island vacation she would love to take which could be in the Bahamas, and so she named these treats Bahama Bars.

Apparently, no one else in our small town had that issue of my mom’s magazine and so no one else had ever tried them.  They became a hit and it wasn’t Christmas at our house, or, frankly, a bake sale, a party, a fancy dinner or anything else involving food or other people, without them.

Somewhere along the line someone gave them one of the boring names above but we’re sticking with Bahama Bars.

As I grew up, I learned to make them and, it turns out, I’ve become something of a master at it. The one thing MS hasn’t robbed is my ability to make these little suckers which isn’t as great as it sounds because I’m really, really sick of them.

Everyone loves them and so I make them ALL THE FREAKING TIME!  Christmas, a birthday party, a baby shower, a brunch, a meeting of my healthy eater’s support group, whatever…

Friends still rave about them and so, I keep making them.

(What if my friends have grown as sick of eating them as I am sick of making them and are too polite to say so?)

If you’re interested allow me to share with you the secret of making these treats masterfully.  And as an added bonus, I’m pretty sure they’re healthy.  They only use natural ingredients.

Like butter, which famous chef Paula Dean pushes so it must be good.

Graham crackers which taste terribly bland by themselves so also must be good for you.

Coconut, a fruit.  (Angel Flaked Coconut works best.)

Chocolate chips.

(Word on the street is that now chocolate is good for you and if you use milk chocolate chips you get extra nutrition from the milk.)

Finally, the piece de resistance, sweetened condensed milk.  Milk- very good for you. Condensed meaning concentrated meaning compressing all that nutrition together, sweetened meaning sugar which is natural from sugar cane.  See?  All good stuff.

So here it goes- stick one stick of butter in one of those long rectangular pans.  (I could get out my ruler to tell you the size of the pan but I have no idea where my ruler is.) 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and place the pan in there, allowing the butter to melt while the oven is getting warmed up. Take the pan and swirl the melting butter around a bit so the whole bottom of the pan and some of the sides are covered with melted butter.  At this point, probably best to use pot holders.  Remove pan from oven.

Take a package graham crackers- you know, the box comes with 3 packages, you just need to use one.  Crumble up the crackers (probably best to remove pot holders before doing this,) so they cover the pan.

Do not, I repeat, do not process the crackers so they are just a powder or buy them already in powdered form.  You need them crumbly with little cracker chunks.  Besides, nothing helps relieve holiday stress than blasting Christmas songs, drinking wine and crumbling bland crackers into bits. Next sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the crackers.  Don’t cover the crackers, just get a nice layer going.

Then do the same with the coconut.

Finally, pour the sweetened condensed milk on top of all that.  Again, don’t cover the coconut but use the whole can and try to make it even.

Put the bars in the oven.

Here’s why I make them the best-  I have no idea how long to tell you to cook them. 

You can probably ignore them for at least 5-7 minutes but then you just have to keep checking. The timer goes out the window with these and taking them out at the most perfect moment makes them perfect.

As soon as you see the edges start to brown, even a little bit, take them out.  (Pot holders again-trying to make it as easy as possible for you.)

Let them cool for 1-2 hours.  Then cut them up BUT don’t try to take them out of the pan.  Put them in the fridge for at least two more hours and then take them out.

Voila, you have perfect Bahama Bars for any occasion as long as put them in these little paper thingys.  My mom says it is very uncouth to take them somewhere or give them as a gift without putting them in these paper doodads- perhaps that adds to their perfectness?  

Bonus tip-they freeze really well.  And I know people who actually prefer to eat them right out of the freezer.

If you are without ideas for a gift or a treat this Christmas I hope my Bahama Bars secrets have helped you.

And now that I have shared these secrets I hope I never have to make these little bastards again.

But alas, the ladies at the library are super nice and they do really, really like them…

Merry Christmas my Christian friends and a wonderful holiday weekend and Happy New Year to everyone!


8 thoughts on “Secrets of a Bahama Mama

    • I don’t know about Bahamas for your birthday this year because it comes so damn quick after Christmas. Another way folks with December birthdays get screwed. You should change your birthday to June like mine and then we can celebrate together- how dangerous would that be??? But I’ll probably suck it up for a future ladies night. Sigh…..

  1. I love your recipe almost as much as I love the Bahama Bars… I have a whole year to try it out, but if I don’t, I’ll ask you to make them next Christmas, as always

  2. it is 5:30 a m and you just made me lol !! SECRETS OF A BAHAMA MAMA….too funny i can’t wait to make these you described my MS reactions to a T ! …giggle…giggle…!
    anyway, my point is thank you for this idea and yes..i have a few Christmas recipes that i feel same way….but all is good as my MS progresses i am being taken off cooking/baking items….and NEVER go by shears for wrapping presents…lol…my family has decided i am a risk to bodily harm…not mine but whoever is around at the moment…lol..i make a GREAT SUPERVISOR i will have someone on this at daybreak…! THANK YOU! Merry Christmas to all!

    • Thank you so much Bonnie-I’m so glad I made you laugh this AM. If you have to be up at 5:30- horrors- I’m glad I helped you giggle your way through it a bit! Shears and wrapping presents- yikes!! But I too love supervising! I still wrap my own but my scissors are completely dull and they don’t look as nice as they used to. And ribbons? Forget it! Merry Christmas to you and yoru supervisees!

  3. Merry Christmas Yvonne! Sound good but a little too sweet for my taste (such a refined palate have I lol. No really, had a very bad experience with condensed milk thus with MS another irrational fear. They sound wonderful and I agree if you have a signature dish you should do it to its death!

    • Merry Christmas my friend! A bad experience with sweetened condensed milk? Did you mix it with alcohol? Then I can relate. This Bahama Mama has trouble with rum after a bad experience but I still deal if I mix it with lots of fruity stuff or put just a bit in nice chocolate balls.

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