111. Hello Dollies, Goodbye Girlish Figure

12 Sep

A Hello Dolly by any other name still tastes as sweet

Folks up here call these delicacies “magic cookie bars,” but in the South they’re called Hello Dollies. Why, I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps because they inspire folks to burst into song? I can, however, see why people think they’re “magic,” seeing as they’re easier than pie to make (even using storebought crust) and more addictive than crack. Not that I’ve actually compared the additive qualities of the two substances. I’m merely speculating. However, I’d be willing to wager that they’re easier to make than crack or at least crystal meth, considering all the complicated shenanigans on Breaking Bad.

Anyhoo, after I graduated from the Easy Bake Oven to the actual kitchen stove, Hello Dollies were some of the first baked treats I mastered. Considering that they’re nigh impossible to mess up, I think they ought to be adopted as the entry level Home Ec project as opposed to the more challenging Rice Krispies treats, which can potentially be disastrous. (Ok, maybe not for most people. But perhaps most people when faced with the conundrum of using large marshmallows instead of the traditional mini version might ignore their Home Ec partner when she suggests melting the marshmallows one at a time and thus avoid making “treats” that resemble concrete, only slightly more difficult to bite into.)

I can.

Folks, Hello Dollies are so easy to make that creating a bad one requires malice aforethought, such as substituting carob for chocolate chips, walnuts for pecans, or using fat-free sweetened condensed milk. As y’all may know, I’m of the opinion that the word “free” ought not be found in any dessert recipe. However, if you want to include that word in the price, by all means, go right ahead! I believe I’ve also made clear my position on alternate fat sources like margarine or the unfortunately named “Buttery Stick,” But in case you missed it, I’ll sum up: Just no.

For Hello Dollies, you’ll need just a few staples that are most likely already in your cabinet/fridge/deep freeze. Namely, graham crackers, butter, chocolate chips, flaked coconut, pecans, and sweetened condensed milk.

Once you’ve gathered all that and a baking dish (I prefer 8 1/2” x 11″, but they’re nearly impossible to find so a 9” x 13” will do), melt a stick of butter and put it in the bottom of said baking dish. Then crush up about one sleeve of graham crackers and mix them in with the butter to make a crust. I just keep adding more till I get a firm, not too buttery-looking foundation. Then layer on a package of chocolate chips, some shredded coconut (the pre-sweetened kind), and some pecans that have been chopped and toasted (forgot to mention that step).

Serving size: 1

Pop an opening on the can of sweetened condensed milk with the rarely used pointy end of a bottle opener, and then make an identical opening directly opposite the first (both on top of the can). Now, here comes the fun part: drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top of the prepared layers. You could remove the top of the can and drizzle with a spoon or something, but it’s not nearly as exciting. (Did I mention I started doing this as a kid when I had more free time and was more easily entertained?)

Once you’ve drizzled all that will drizzle, carefully remove the top from the can with a can opener (beware the sharp points!). Scoop up the remaining sweetened condensed milk with your finger and lick. Repeat as necessary. Sometimes a plastic spatula is helpful for getting out those elusive last drops. Please note that eating sweetened condensed milk from the can like this is dangerous for children under, say, 27 so you should perform this task yourself. Oh, and also, you should put the pan in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until it looks brown and bubbly on top. I recommend eating this while it’s hot (also not advised for children) but room temperature also works.

Courtesy of sweet and talented Jessie aka CakeSpy. Click to visit her fabulous blog.

If you have any leftovers (hah!), they freeze and reheat nicely in the microwave. (The only reason I know this is because I live with someone who hates both pecans and coconut. However, if you take a pan of these to any gathering of three or more, you will come home with an empty baking dish. Not just empty — scraped clean!)

Sometimes when I’m feeling a little extra spendy, I’ll do a version of these I learned from my friend Gina (of the add-marshmallows-one-at-a-time debacle). Follow the same (half-ass, I know) directions but also add a package of butterscotch chips, a package of peanut butter chips, and a package of mini baking M & M’s.

When serving Hello Dollies, you might want to make sure there’s an adequate number of comfortable horizontal surfaces nearby because they’ve been known to cause sudden and prolonged sugar comas. Consider yourself warned.

Hello Dollies Quick Reference Recipe
1 stick melted butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut
12 oz. package chocolate chips (more or less to taste)
1 cup nuts
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Make crust with the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs. Layer other ingredients as listed. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over the top and bake at 350 until tan on top.

Ok, show of hands, who likes eating sweetened condensed milk straight from the can?

12 Responses to “111. Hello Dollies, Goodbye Girlish Figure”

  1. Nolan Bailey, Sr. September 12, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    I’m older than Southern dirt, and I’ve never heard of Hello Dolly cookies. I’ve eaten a ton of “tea cakes, sugar cookies, soft gingerbread, and berry cobblers,” but nary a Hello Dolly.

    • Kim Holloway September 12, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

      I think you ought to rectify that situation right quick like.

  2. Barbara September 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Love these cookie bars. Have you thought about crumbling some Frosted Flakes to add crunch? (My typing had an accent when I keyed in that last sentence!) I’m a total fail at Rice Krispey Treats.

    • Kim Holloway September 12, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

      Funny! I type with an accent, too. Frosted Flakes might make a good addition. My sister is queen of the rice crispy treats. She always adds about twice as many marshmallows as the recipe calls for and probably extra butter, too. They’re yummy!

  3. Tammy September 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    I would eat the em up minus the plastic which some folks call coconut. Sounds yummy!

    • Kim Holloway September 12, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

      What is with y’all hating on the coconut? It’s the best part, aside from the chocolate and the pecans and the sweetened condensed milk and…

  4. Hope September 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    I have never laughed so hard from reading a danged recipe!

    Wooo, lawdy girl!

    • Kim Holloway September 12, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

      Thanks, Hope! I aim to amuse.

  5. Jenna Holloway Cochran September 13, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Kim you put the coconut before the chocolate chips…I think they are much better that way…especially since you know I don’t like chocolate all that much.

    Hello Dollies were such a big hit back in our day that I actually gave Deana a “Hello Dollies” kit as a wedding present (she had always made me make them so I decided that if she was old enough to get married she was old enough to cook her own.) She was so very excited to see it.

    I also made them for a bake sale at one of my hotels, I made about 5 different variations of them (no coconut, butterscotch, no pecans, etc.) They were such a hit that employees for weeks asked me if I would make them some more.

    Good to know about the freezing…since I live with a non-coconut and pecan eater as well. 🙂

    • Kim Holloway September 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      It’s funny, when I first typed the recipe in from memory, I listed the coconut layer first. Then when I looked at an actual recipe, it listed chocolate first so I changed it. Gotta learn to trust my instincts.

      Now I’m thinking we ought to make up some hello dollies kits and sell them from our future FFF food truck. Notice how I’m speaking in code so nobody takes our culinary creations to market first.

  6. Rose September 17, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    I have not tasted these yet, but from the looks of your recipe I am in for one heck of a treat! I think I’ll be extra spendy with these, I’ll add all those yummy stuff for an extra sweet kick. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kim Holloway September 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

      Thanks! Hope you enjoy them!

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