Brownies and Bars/ Dessert/ Recipes

Hello Dolly Bars

This is one of Great Grandma’s recipes so we already know it contains graham crackers, coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Obviously.

If you’re been following my journey working through her recipe box, you know as well as I do that these three ingredients made up the crux of Gram’s life. The woman loved her graham crackers. And her butter. She lived a very sweet life indeed. Is it possible to miss someone you never really knew? Because sometimes when I’m making her recipes and squinting my eyes to read her tiny cursive letters, I really miss her and wish she was the one in the kitchen baking away instead of me.

I was just reading Lisa’s latest blog post where she recreated her grandma’s peanut butter crisscross cookies (if you’ve never read Homesick Texan before you’re in for a major treat!). Something she wrote really struck me and that was that there’s just something about your mother’s, and your grandmother’s, cooking that just makes you happy. I love that because it’s so true. There’s a million adaptations of this recipe all over the place, but because this is my great-grandma’s recipe, it will always taste the best to me.

You know what I mean?

These layer bar cookies are an adaption of the classic Southern hello dolly bars. Before yesterday I had never had a hello dolly bar before, and I’m from the South. Go figure. From doing a bit of research though, I learned that the traditional bars have seven layers in them and include butterscotch chips. Well, great-grandma wrote a tiny note at the bottom of her recipe card that said she preferred these bars “without the butterscotch chips and with extra graham cracker crumbs”. Of course she did. The woman lived for graham crackers. This we know.

So instead of seven layers, here we have four layers….that’s if you don’t count the butter and sweetened condensed milk as layers, which I don’t.

Add a long, slooooooow drizzle of Eagle brand milk, pop them in the oven and in half an hour you have these beauties:

Sure, they’re sweet enough to break your teeth, but pretty perfect for any potluck, church picnic or special dessert. I’m sure the bars would have been a bit neater if I would have been patient enough to let them cool completely in the pan before slicing. I’m sure a lot of my desserts would be a lot neater if I had more patience (I’m not a cake decorator for a reason). Thus, my rational advice to you is really to let cool completely before slicing or make the night before and keep them in the fridge.

Or just completely disregard my above recommendation and dive into that warm pan with a butter knife, because who the heck cares anyway?

P.S. I really hope my dentist doesn’t read my blog.

P.P.S. I love you guys.

Hello Dolly Bars

makes about 20 bars, depending on the size

Print this recipe!

Ingredients:

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 stick butter, melted

10 graham crackers, crushed

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chocolate chips

1 15-oz can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Pour the melted butter into a 9 x 13″ pan. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over melted butter, followed by the walnuts, chocolate chips and coconut. Pour sweetened condensed milk over top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for at least an hour before slicing and serving!

Time:

1.5 hours (includes time to cool)

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88 Comments

  • Reply
    shelly (cookies and cups)
    May 11, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Those look amazing!! I love family recipes ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Caroline @ chocolate & carrots
    May 11, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Yummmm! I have a bag of coconut in my pantry that is dying to be used. These look like just the thing. Thank you for the great recipe Jenna! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply
    Molly @ RDexposed
    May 11, 2012 at 4:24 am

    Grandmother recipes are always delicious but more so to the family than anyone else! <3

  • Reply
    Emily
    May 11, 2012 at 4:32 am

    I’ll tell you what, you (and Lisa) are so right when it comes to loving your mother’s, or grandmother’s, recipes. My Mom’s gravy is the best in the world, and when I make it, I feel like I’m back at home. No other gravy in the universe will ever match hers in my eyes! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Jenn
    May 11, 2012 at 4:49 am

    Look similar to the muffin tops you posted! …are they sitting on newspapers? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    Katrina
    May 11, 2012 at 4:54 am

    My grandma has such a similar recipe, but without walnuts. Over the years I’ve tried a few varieties and they are all so yummy! Gotta love Grandma classics ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    May 11, 2012 at 4:56 am

    I think your grandma and I would have been good friends because I share a similar love for graham crackers. Either that, or we’d be enemies because we’d be caught fighting for the last box in the grocery store. ๐Ÿ˜‰ These sound delicious!

  • Reply
    Nicole
    May 11, 2012 at 4:58 am

    My family has the same recipe, except with a few modifications: crushed corn flakes instead of graham crackers and no walnuts (I’m allergic). They were originally named Magic Bars but affectionately became known as Lizzy cookies, when my college roommate fell in love with them.

  • Reply
    Blog is the New Black
    May 11, 2012 at 5:05 am

    OK, so I made “7 layer” aka “magic bars” the other day (somehow failed) and then at work someone told me they are ALSO called… wait for it… Hello Dolly Bars! All the same thing! Yours look delicious! I am trying these again, for sure!

  • Reply
    Sara @my less serious life
    May 11, 2012 at 5:05 am

    i die for hello dolly bars. die for them.

  • Reply
    Sara Palacios
    May 11, 2012 at 5:08 am

    Geez…these look delish! And I love your grandma for not including the butterscotch chips….because I am not a big fan either! I’ve been banned from eating chocolate during most of my pregnancy (and caffeine), but I am due in two weeks and totally PLAN on consuming some of these as soon as humanly possible. Care to send a care package to a new mom in need of her first dose of chocolate in months?!? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    Steffany
    May 11, 2012 at 5:23 am

    My Mom makes hello dollies but without the nuts for EVERY holiday or special occassion or potluck. They are devoured ins econds, even by people who swear they hate coconut.

  • Reply
    christie
    May 11, 2012 at 5:43 am

    oh my gosh. i cannot wait to make these bars.
    and to steal your pink pants!!

  • Reply
    brandi
    May 11, 2012 at 5:43 am

    These are one of my husband’s all time favorite desserts. I have his mom’s recipe for these – I’m sure it’s exactly the same, but it’s still one that gets passed down all the time ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Barbara
    May 11, 2012 at 5:47 am

    I have such great memories of mymom making these. Thanksfor the post, Im going to gohome and make her recipe later tonight!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    May 11, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Oooh, these look AMAZING! I make a version called magic bars. The best part is that everyone loves them and they are so easy to make.

    Happy weekend!

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    May 11, 2012 at 5:57 am

    I have been making these for years! My mother made them when I was a little girl and I fell in love with them. I make the Texas version with pecans, though. Whenever I take them to a party or potluck, the platter comes back empty.

  • Reply
    Kath
    May 11, 2012 at 6:04 am

    These are one of my favorite desserts EVER! My roommate in college used to get them in care packages. I must make some in the future!

  • Reply
    Cait's Plate
    May 11, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Are Hello Dolly bars the same as 7 layer bars?

    I was just going to comment that I’ve never made Hello Dolly bars but have always wanted to…and then I took a look at the ingredients again and realized, give or take a few chips (butterscotch and white chocolate), it might actually be the same thing! If so, I can finally check these off my “to make” list ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      jenna
      May 11, 2012 at 7:31 am

      They are the same! Except, you’re right, 7 layer bars contain butterscotch.

  • Reply
    Lily O'Dare
    May 11, 2012 at 6:05 am

    yummmmmmmm neeeeeed nowwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Erin
    May 11, 2012 at 6:14 am

    It’s funny, when I first encountered a Hello Dolly bar after I moved to Memphis I was curious what was in it. Once I found out I realized, they are pretty much a 7 layer bar! And they are delicious. Yours look awesome.

  • Reply
    Margarita
    May 11, 2012 at 6:18 am

    There are so many desserts out there that require such fancy ingredients… They are good and fancy, but sometimes what we really want are just good ole classics that warm our hearts and put a big smile on our faces. These dolly bars truly speak of a grandma’s love!

  • Reply
    Rachel Cooks (formerly Not Rachael Ray)
    May 11, 2012 at 6:29 am

    These look amazing, and I think your grandma is right. The butterscotch makes it too over-the-top sweet for me.

  • Reply
    Nadeanne
    May 11, 2012 at 6:40 am

    My mom makes Hello Dollies but without the coconut and she adds PB chips….to this day it’s one of my favorite desserts!

  • Reply
    jenna k
    May 11, 2012 at 6:46 am

    mmm, my mom makes these at all holidays! the butterscotch chips are my favorite, so i could never leave those out. but the extra grahams sound right up my alley ๐Ÿ™‚
    ps (a comment about your ‘may favorites’ post) i definitely feel like we’re friends haha

  • Reply
    Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables
    May 11, 2012 at 6:58 am

    this is one of my all time favorite desserts–I like more graham cracker crumbs too! so much better that way ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Kelli H (Made in Sonoma)
    May 11, 2012 at 7:00 am

    These look SO good. I know I would love them! It looks like in your ingredient picture that it says ‘text’ by the sweetened condensed milk.

    • Reply
      jenna
      May 11, 2012 at 7:33 am

      good eye! it totally does. I need to fix that…after I drink some coffee.

  • Reply
    Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    May 11, 2012 at 7:13 am

    These are my favorite bars!!! Delicious!

  • Reply
    Elisabeth
    May 11, 2012 at 7:23 am

    We’ve made these since I was a kid but we always call them 7 layer bars or Eagle Magic Bars. I’ve actually never heard them called Hello Dolly bars, but I’m not from the south (Ohio, actually). I like the idea of making them with just chocolate chips – I’m not a big fan of butterscotch chips (too sweet…ha!). ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Robin
    May 11, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Hello Dollies are my FAVORITE! No butterscotch chips and pecans. The only thing not to like about them is waiting for them to cool (or really, not waiting for them to cool and having them inconsiderately fall apart as I’m trying to get it directly from the pan into my mouth)

  • Reply
    Laura @ She Eats Well
    May 11, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Yum. I think these bars combine all my favorite ingredients…especially the chocolate. Best eaten warm out of the oven!! So delicious.

  • Reply
    Bryan
    May 11, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Those look delicious! I have always loved bars like this. However, what I am really coveting is your glasses. What are they called and where did you get them, if you don’t mind my asking.

  • Reply
    Shannon
    May 11, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I’m really missing out on a lot of tasty recipes because of the fact that I dislike coconut! I like the taste/flavor – just not the actual coconut flakey – pick it out of your teeth an hour later feeling. Recipes like this make me wish I did though. And, maybe I’ll try again ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Urban Wife
    May 11, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I’ll take a toothache any day from these babies. Swoon!

  • Reply
    rachel
    May 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

    i love your blog! can’t wait to make the muffin tops and baked eggs for my mom this sunday. any ideas on what brunch cocktail to serve?

    • Reply
      jenna
      May 11, 2012 at 7:54 am

      Mimosas, Sangria or (non-alcoholic) sparkling blueberry lemonade!

  • Reply
    Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch
    May 11, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Family recipes are the absolute best, aren’t they? Especially when they are this delicious!

  • Reply
    Liz
    May 11, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Hello amazingness. These look SO good!

  • Reply
    Em (Wine and Butter)
    May 11, 2012 at 8:13 am

    It’s the downside of bars for sure. Yesterday I made some amazing peanut butter cookies (if I do say so myself) – I pulled them out of the oven and immediately began to try scrape them from the baking tray. Obviously some of the bottom became disconnected and I started wailing to my husband ‘why does this always happen to meeeeee??’ and he was like ‘um, maybe you need to leave the cookies to cool for more than 3 seconds’. Oh yeah. Maybe.

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    May 11, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I love Seven Layer Bars, Magic Bars, Hello Dolly bars…whatever name they go by, I love them! I have made many varities of them and versions and really any combo of the basic seven ingredients or so always works.

    Can’t believe you’ve never had one til just recently (yesterday!) I grew up on these things ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Kim @ The Family Practice
    May 11, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Our grandmas must have been friends or something – these are almost identical to my grandmas “magic cookie bar” recipe! So fun that you are working through her recipe box. What a great way to honor her and get some great goodies too ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Moni Meals
    May 11, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Why Hello Dolly Bars…HELLLLO! I love anything you make from your Grandma’s Recipes. ๐Ÿ™‚

    So similiar to 7 Layer Magic Bars, right! YUM, one of my fav.
    Have a great day!

  • Reply
    joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    May 11, 2012 at 9:01 am

    These look SO yummy. May have to be a thank you gift for my boyfriend after he helps me move today. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray
    May 11, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Yesss, I love Hello Dolly bars. I’ve only ever known them as “Magic Cookie Bars” or “Seven-Layer Bars” or, more recently, “Congo Bars” (seriously, what?), but they’re just every kind of sweet yummy. And even better when they’re a family recipe. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Courtney
    May 11, 2012 at 9:11 am

    I love that you called them Hello Dolly bars. Growing up in CA, they were also 7-layer bars even if they didn’t have 7 layers, but after meeting and marrying my Texan, they are SOLELY called Hello Dolly bars….by any name, they are delicious and I will need to make them, um, maybe tonight:) Happy Friday to you!

  • Reply
    Karen
    May 11, 2012 at 9:15 am

    These are very popular in Kansas where I live. Lots of variations. I usually make them with pecans and semisweet chocolate chips but no butterscotch chips. One of my coworkers makes them without coconut. I’ve even seen them with Andes mint chips. I can never figure out what variation I like best–they’re all delicious!

  • Reply
    Alison
    May 11, 2012 at 9:21 am

    You make me want to fly to my grandmother’s house and bake with her. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Allison
    May 11, 2012 at 9:28 am

    A few months ago I had a bad habit of running over to Peets for their 7-Layer bars (which remind me a lot of these) almost every afternoon. After about two weeks of this my waistline and wallet both pleeded for me to grab an apple instead. I take this recipe as a sign that it’s time to rekindle my relationship with delicious chocolatey-nutty-coconutty bars, and homemade basically = economical right? Thanks Jenna!

  • Reply
    Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out
    May 11, 2012 at 10:44 am

    You’re so right. There are a million different kinds of rice pudding out there, but to me, my momma’s will ALWAYS taste the best. Go figure.

  • Reply
    Jess
    May 11, 2012 at 11:05 am

    This is exactly what my grandmother made! And no one calls them hello dollys here, I thought I was the only one!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    May 11, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Those bars look soooooo good! I’m going to make these for a sweets table for a party I’m hosting next month!

  • Reply
    Antonia @ healthinspirations
    May 11, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I LOVE YOUR BLOG. The recipes you post are simply amazing. This is on top of my “to-bake” recipes list. Can’t wait!

  • Reply
    Mary
    May 11, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I made these as a kid! Mom and I always called them “Spread Around Delights.” I still make them. Always a favorite!

  • Reply
    Mary
    May 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Except when I make them I layer this order: craham cracker; coconut; chocolate chips; walnuts; condensed milk. They stay together very well when cool!

  • Reply
    Marinos
    May 11, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I love so much your blog!! So delicius recipes!!
    Could you tell me where did you get the colorful bowl you used on salted caramel chocolate mousse?
    Please answer its really important to me! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      jenna
      May 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      I don’t know! That was a guest post an I’m not sure where the author of that recipe got it. So sorry!

  • Reply
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama
    May 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    This is such a “grandma” recipe! Graham crackers and condensed milk are definitely in my grandmother’s recipe combinations all the time!

  • Reply
    Aundra Weissert @ Fit for Life
    May 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Whoa. You had me at coconut. And chocolate. So yummy!

    That recipe box of your grandma’s is kind of like a box of chocolate: reaching in to grab another recipe, you just never know what you’re going to get! Can’t wait for more in the series.

  • Reply
    Chelsea
    May 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    awww this made me smile!! my family makes a bar kind of like this, but we just call them mounds bars, and the layers are just more structured. yours look like a lot more fun!! and you’ve inspired me to start collecting recipes from my grandma ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Caitlin Murphy
    May 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I love these. My family makes “seven layer bars” every year for Christmas. It’s not Christmas if we don’t have them. They have the graham/butter as the crust, coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans, and condensed milk. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Kathy W.
    May 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Mmm, layered bars.

    (Isn’t it weird to realize that we all had 4 great-grandmothers, and 8 great-great-grandmothers?? And so on until the mind boggles. And let’s not forget the ever-multiplying great-grandfathers, either.)

  • Reply
    Candace
    May 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I KNEW these were Hello, Dolly bars when you posted that pic on Twitter! These are a family favorite. Yum.

  • Reply
    Kristen @ notsodomesticated
    May 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I LOVE how your grandma’s recipes are simple with minimal ingredients, and yet I bet they all taste amazing. Recipes don’t need to be complicated to be delicious!

  • Reply
    Luv What You Do
    May 11, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I just learned that these were called Hello Dolly Bars….I’ve always called them magic cookie bars. I make mine with butterscotch which adds just a hint of flavor. My mouth is watering thinking about these guys. I love them fresh out of the freezer!!!

  • Reply
    Heidi - Apples Under My Bed
    May 11, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    warm fuzzies from this post ๐Ÿ™‚
    Heidi xo
    ps I really hope you know what “warm fuzzes” mean (& that it’s not an Australian thing) so that you don’t find this comment to be incredibly creepy. let’s hope.

  • Reply
    Lora
    May 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I grew up in Wisconsin and we called these magic cookie bars. They were a special treat whenever Mom made them. And now I’m wondering if my son would like them since I want them but really shouldn’t eat a whole pan.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    May 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Love love love these!

  • Reply
    kyla
    May 11, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    If you do want to include butterscotch, how much could we add?

    • Reply
      jenna
      May 11, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      Add 1 cup–same as the chocolate!

  • Reply
    Tally
    May 12, 2012 at 5:05 am

    When making these without the butterscotch chips, my recipe called them “Hello Dolly” bars and if you added the butterscotch chips, they became 7-layer bars ๐Ÿ™‚ They were always made with pecans (my Texas heritage) and I used to put them in the freezer so I wouldn’t eat them so fast, but that didn’t work as they are wonderful frozen too.

  • Reply
    Vegan Dance Magic Bars | Epicurious Vegan
    May 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    […] didnโ€™t realize there was another name for these bars until I read Jennaโ€™s blog yesterday with the recipe for her grandmaโ€™s โ€œHello Dolly’โ€ bars. Turns out Magic Bars […]

  • Reply
    Jenny
    May 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    baking now:) can’t wait to try!

  • Reply
    amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    May 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    These look amazing Jenna! I love your Great Grandmother’s Recipes. Their always my favourite posts.
    You’re recipe box challenge totally inspired me to pick up a couple of retro recipe box tins. I love em’. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply
    Christy
    May 14, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I’m a sucker for those bars…can’t wait to make them!! Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Karen O.
    May 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    My mom has made Hello Dolly Bars since I was little. I always see similar recipes but this is the first time I have ever heard any one else call them Hello Dolly Bars!!!

  • Reply
    Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner
    May 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Oh my gosh. I can feel the love. What an amazing recipe! <3

  • Reply
    tanja
    May 17, 2012 at 1:52 am

    I made those yesterday, with some adaptations in the ingredient list and were a big hit. Thanks!

  • Reply
    tanja
    May 17, 2012 at 1:55 am

    do you mind if I share this recipe in my blog?

  • Reply
    Gia
    May 17, 2012 at 10:07 am

    These looks just like the “killer cookies” that my Mom makes! We’re from up North and I’ve never heard of hello dolly bars… ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Amanda
    June 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I just wanted to let you know I made these hello dolly bars this weekend for a BBQ party and they were fabulous! Everyone at the party loved them.

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  • Reply
    Amy D.
    December 20, 2012 at 6:21 am

    Hello Dolly Bars were part of my childhood. My Gram made them for Christmas – and for special family events. Thanks for posting here — found the recipie and my daughter and I just made a batch. Brings back sweet memories!

  • Reply
    Momo
    April 7, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    The Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk has had the same recipe on its can for years as “Magic Cookie Bars”. Delish!

  • Reply
    Cat
    April 14, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Just found this recipe after making my own, without coconut (yuck). Thinking I did it backwards, cuz the recipe I had made me do the condensed milk FIRST, then the chocolate chips, then the walnuts. And the walnuts are looking kind of loose…

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