‘Dolly’ cookie bars still goin’ strong

Hello Dolly Cookies are multi-layer bars, which are associated with a recipe inspired by the famous play.

Theater people have numerous traditions. And for 19 years I have been in charge of prepping and serving the traditional “Opening Night Lasagna Dinner” for the entire cast and crew involved with each year’s Youth Theatre of Hardin County production.

This year, which is the 48th season of Youth Theatre, we performed “Hello, Dolly!” For each production, I try to tie in a dessert that coordinates with the show. This year the choice was obvious – Hello Dolly Cookie Bars.

While researching the origin of Hello Dolly Cookies, I discovered they can be traced to 1964 when Carol Channing played matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi on Broadway. The show featured a restaurant scene which inspired New York food journalist Clementine Paddleford to include her recipe for a Hello Dolly cake using coconut in her food column.

That cake now is a cookie thanks to Gail Borden, who in 1853, invented sweetened condensed milk.

In 1964, Borden featured this recipe on the back of his label of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. It was called Magic Cookie Bars and still can be found on the labels today.

Hello Dolly Cookies are a bar cookie and can be five, six or seven layers depending on the amount of ingredients you add. These cookies will be rich as well as moist.

You do not want to overbake them as they will become dry.

The recipe calls for 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs. If you cannot find the crumbs at your grocery, 2 cups is about 10 graham crackers crushed.

Use real butter, not margarine, when making any type of cookie. It does make a difference in the taste and is worth the extra cost.

The other ingredients are chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks), butterscotch chips, pecan halves (I used pecan pieces), sweetened coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Make sure you purchase sweetened condensed milk, not evaporated milk.

Use a 9- by 13-inch pan to bake these cookies. If you use a glass pan, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake a little longer.

Always set your timer for the least amount of time, check your product and add additional time if needed.

You want the edges golden brown and the middle bubbly. You do not want burnt coconut.

You can add or substitute white chocolate chips or peanut butter chips. The choice is yours. This recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 25 to 30 minutes to bake.

Hello Dolly Cookies are a great choice to make and take to any get-together because they are gooey, gooey good.

Hello Dolly Cookies

This quick and easy dessert is the traditional and yummy Hello Dolly Bar, but also is a Magic Bar or a 7-Layer Bar. Whatever you call it, the soft graham cracker crust, rich chocolate and crunchy coconut drizzled with sweetened condensed milk is so scrumptious.

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers)

5/8 cup butter, melted (10 tablespoons)

1 heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup butterscotch chips

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

Line a 9- by 13-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray

Crush the graham crackers in a zippered baggie.

Melt the butter and stir into the graham cracker crumbs until evenly combined.

Press the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of the pan. Evenly cover the crust with the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans and coconut. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top.

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

I set my oven for 25 minutes and then add an additional minute, watching it closely until the edges are golden brown, the middle is bubbly and the coconut slightly brown Be careful not to burn the coconut, which can happen very quickly.

Makes 20 squares.

SOURCE: The Turquoise Home

Cherie Mingus is a retired teacher who taught family and consumer sciences at Central Hardin High School. She can be reached at cheriemingus@gmail.com.

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