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Seven Layer Magic Hello Dolly Bars

by on April 10, 2010 · 24 comments

This recipe goes by many names – Seven Layer Bars, Magic Cookie Bars and Hello Dollies. You’ve got Seven Layer bars if you actually use all seven layers, which include butter, graham cracker crumbs, condensed milk, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, coconut and nuts which you make by layering directly in the pan. If you leave off one of the chips and/or the coconut, you’ve got Magic Cookie Bars. If you like being old fashioned or singing old Broadway tunes, you can make either and call them Hello Dollies, which I read was the original name.

Because (like a dummy) I put my food processor in storage, I made a batch yesterday using packaged graham cracker crumbs. They weren’t quite as good as when made with actual fresh graham crackers ground into crumbs, but they were still tasty.

Do you have any great variations on this recipe? If so, I’d like to know. I’ve made these with an animal cracker base and even a base of Strawberry Newton cookies, which worked surprisingly well. I’ve even heard of people pouring the toppings over a base of plain white bread pressed into a pan.

Seven Layers

Seven Layer Magic Hello Dolly Bars

1 stick (4 oz) butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the butter and graham cracker crumbs and press into bottom of a 13×9 inch pan which you’ve lined with parchment.

Pour condensed milk over graham cracker base. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts and coconut

Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack, then lift parchment from pan and cut into bars.

Makes 48 bars

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Published on April 10, 2010

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

C L April 10, 2010 at 10:49 am

A classic! This is a terrific “basic”. I have made the base, at one time or another, using crushed Oreos, crushed pretzels, and crushed Fritos (but not all at once! LOL). Chips/morsels-wise, I have used combinations of white chocolate, Andes mints, M&Ms of various sorts, and the Nestles swirled chips. I have even used “leftover” holiday choclates, if there is such a thing as “leftover” chocolate. ;)

Camila Cánoas April 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

Wow! they look amazing! I´ve tryed another similar recipe from “Sugar” (TV show from food network) called “Gooey Shouthern Squares” that use also condense milk, but 2 of them. They are a hit! sometimes I cook them for sale at my university. Here´s the website where you can find the recipe (and many others)

And also a video in youtube with the episode with this recipe

I hope you to try this recipe! :)

Christy April 10, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Hi Anna I have a question. I have some graham cracker crumbs I have been storing for several months in a plastic container. (I had made Alton’s cheesecake you had recommended & processed the whole rectangle instead of the square & ended up with double crumbs). Would you use them or toss them? Thanks!

Barbara April 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm

These are great. They’ve been around a while, but anything with condensed milk deserves to be brought back again and again!

Katrina April 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Ha, love the extended name.
I was just telling some friends that I use my food processor almost every day I think, so I better not pack mine!

Michele April 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Ever watch the 1999 movie “Dick” with Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams? Hello Dolly bars help move the plotline along.

Anna April 10, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Thanks for the variations! Cheryl, a crushed Oreo base sounds terrific. I’ll have to try that next time. I also liked the looks of the dulce de leche flavored ones Camila linked to.

Christy, I’d buy new graham cracker crumbs if I were you. If you’d stored them in the freezer they would have been fine, but they tend to get stale fast in the pantry.

Barbara, I agree.

Katrina, you were smart not to pack yours. I didn’t pack my coffee grinder, so I can use that in a pinch.

Michele, I never saw that movie but I looked it up on IMDB and it sounds cute. Thanks for the movie suggestion.

Jamie April 10, 2010 at 6:43 pm

De-lurking here…I have followed your website forever and really enjoy everything you do. I LOVE these bars and rank them as my number one treat of all time…An iinteresting variation that I love is to use a coconut cake mix dry, YUM! I have also liked it with a chocolate fudge cake mix dry. I also sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt on the melted butter then add whatever base I am using..

Kara April 10, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I make them using whatever I happen to have in my baking cabinet. Dried fruit, all types of chips, various nuts… whatever seems good at the time! I never thought to use a different base, though. If I feel like having something gooey, I don’t pour the milk on until the very end – it permeates all of the layers and keeps the coconut super moist.

PS – my friends favorite recipe seems to be graham crackers, butter, SC milk, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, dried cranberries, pecans, and coconuts. Yum!

Pam April 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm

My food processor broke some time ago and I haven’t replaced it, so when I need graham cracker crumbs I just throw them in a Ziplock bag and use my rolling pin to crush them. Doesn’t take long and they come out almost as finely ground as the food processor. Plus, if I’m mad at somebody it’s a good way to let off some steam!

Anna April 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Jamie, thanks for de-lurking! I love meeting long-time lurkers. Also, I am very interested in trying your creative base idea. Coconut cake mix, eh? So I guess you just sprinkle it on over the butter? If you happen to check back and see this, I’d be interested in knowing the exact proportions because I want to try it.

Kara, thanks for the tip on pouring the condensed milk last. I know I’ve done it that way in the past, but I never stopped to think whether there was really a difference in pouring it first or last. I also wonder if it less moisture sinks into the base that way, keeping the base firmer.

Pam, I used to do it that way too. Somewhere along the way, I got spoiled by using a food processor and just stopped. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately and really should go back to the rolling pin method to let off steam ;).

Emily April 10, 2010 at 9:47 pm

We’ve made a version of these with a Nilla wafer base for years. Really tasty!

CindyD April 10, 2010 at 9:50 pm

It might be a waste of good Girl Scout cookies, but I bet crushed Trefoils would make a good base!

jacquie April 10, 2010 at 11:10 pm

never thought of putting dried fruit in the mix – wonder why since it does sound good.

do you have a good recipe for homemade graham crackers?

KAnn April 11, 2010 at 12:46 am

Anna, my slight variation is to add some cinnamon to the graham cracker crumbs. I tend to prefer just chocolate chips with mine but I make them with the butterscotch, too.

Mary April 11, 2010 at 4:52 am

A GREAT variation is to use crushed chocolate wafers (the old-fashioned “Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers”) in place of the graham cracker crumbs and chopped macadamia nuts subbed for the pecans. Oh, and no butterscotch chips — chocolate only. This variation is one of my favorite party or cookie exchange cookies!

Anna April 11, 2010 at 7:39 am

Love the variations! Glad to have another great use for those Chocolate Wafers.

Jacqui, I’ve never made graham crackers but Katrina at Baking & Boys made them a while back and loved them. She used this recipe

Rebecca April 11, 2010 at 10:05 am

The cookie book Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar by Moskowitz and Romero has a nice version of the magic cookie bar that uses reduced coconut milk with brown sugar in place of the condensed milk. The cookie comes out softer, but has a great coconut flavor and is much less sweet. It’s delicious!

Rebecca April 11, 2010 at 10:11 am

Oops, forgot the link for the Vegan Magic Cookie Bars!

Carol A, April 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm

These are so good, and all the variations sound yummy.

A friend of mine calls them “Seven Layer Hips.” :-D

Shannon Abdollmohammadi April 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Thanks Anna….I forgot about these delicious bars!! I am for sure making them with the crushed oreo cookie base!!!

Erika April 12, 2010 at 9:25 am

I made a Key Lime version of these once for a family reunion. It was awesome- although i haven’t made them since. I added lime zest to the condensed milk, removed the chocolate and butterscotch chips and used white chocolate chips, and then I used macadamia nuts for the nuts. IIRC, I also added a layer by mixing key lime juice with powdered sugar and adding a tiny drizzle to the top.

Anna April 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Key lime sounds awesome!

Laura April 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I just made these using coco lopez cream of coconut instead of the condensed milk. Only chocolate chips. I used unsweetened coconut because I wanted the whole thing less sweet. I used crushed tea biscuits (vanilla, but chocolate would have been even better). I went with pecans, but, in retrspect, almonds might have given the whole thing a nice almond joy vibe.

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