Tag Archives: pecans

The Hello Dolly Bar Mystery…

So…I just got back from Arizona/Colorado/New Mexico, where I hung out with my parents and stood in four states at once and saw some ruins and ate a lot…including a new dessert: Hello Dolly Bars.

Long story short, my mother saw a recipe for “Magic Cookie Bars,” which she knew as Hello Dolly Bars from long ago. I asked why they were called Hello Dolly Bars, but she didn’t know. And I made a mental note to look it up when I got home…

As noted, I’m back. So…I did some research…and, basically, I came up with nothing. There are lots of hits for “Hello Dolly Bars,” on blogs…including variations on the recipe — some with butterscotch chips, for example — and several of those blogs question where the name came from (they’re known as Seven Layer Bars and Magic Cookie Bars, too…)…but no one has an explanation. (One of them — which I can’t find now — said that they will become a sticky nightmare in the pan if you don’t use wax paper…which was good to read as I was thinking about skipping the pan-lining step next time…)

I thought maybe one of my cookbooks would have something…but, alas. There’s nothing in the Joy of Cooking. (I wish I had the Cookie Bible…but, sadly, I only have the Cake and Pie and Pastry versions of the Good Word.) And I *thought* I saw something somewhere about Hello Dolly bars as a Southern thing…but Paula Deen doesn’t have anything either.

Epicurious turned up nothing under the “Hello Dolly”- or “Seven Layer Bar”- names. (And here’s what I think the Web-savvy kids call a “white whine”: Epicurious has hands down THE most annoying online ads. If you run your cursor over one of those damn things, these horrible things pop up and it takes WAY TOO LONG to make them go away.) The Food Network has a recipe for Magic Cookie Bars sans explanation..and, apropos of nothing, I find it sort of hilarious that it lists Warm White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip as a similar recipe.

It’s been SO LONG since I’ve seen Hello, Dolly that I don’t really remember the plot…and I am tempted to add it to my Netflix queue now. (Maybe this is a sign from the universe that I should watch it again and I will rediscover something in it that will change my life forever.) According to Wikipedia, it’s about a meddlesome matchmaker…so maybe Hello Dolly bars are sort of like Rachael Ray’s You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta in that they are so good, you’ll trap yourself a man? Or maybe one of the early bakers really liked to listen to Louis Armstrong while baking? (I don’t think there are any clues in the lyrics…) Or maybe Carol Channing or Barbra Streisand just really like them a lot?  Those are my best guesses.

The recipe (adapted from an online magazine…but I don’t remember which one…but, as noted, the Internet has about a zillion versions of this, so I don’t feel *too* bad for ripping off whatever poor schmucks printed this version):

Hello Dolly (or Magic [or Seven Layer]) Bars

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup oatmeal

1 Tb brown sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (recipe calls for bittersweet, but I think milk works just fine)

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup pecans (original recipe says to chop them…but I didn’t and I think it turned out just fine)

Preheat oven to 325. Line an 8X8-inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, oatmeal, brown sugar and butter; beat well.

Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of baking pan.

Sprinkle chocolate chips, coconut and pecans on top. Pour over the condensed milk evenly.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until slightly golden on top.

Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.

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Adventures in Marbling

I have a friend in Detroit who couldn’t make it to Pie Day, so I told her I would bake her whatever she wanted when she was in NY — for one night only! — to celebrate her birthday.

Her response? “I’ve always been a sucker for pecan pie! And turtle pie. And peanut butter pie. Heath bar pie. Vanilla pie. OK, I think I may just be making up pies now…”

So…since she didn’t have one extra special favorite and seemed to like pecans, I decided to go with turtle cheesecake.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the day OF the big birthday bash that I read the directions in full and realized the cake is supposed to refrigerate overnight. Which I totally should have known! Cheesecake needs some time to chill and settle. But, alas, I had no choice but to make do.

I also tried to marble the cake…for what could possibly be the first time ever. And yet it was really hard to tell that there was any chocolate in there at all. It wasn’t a beautiful marble. It was more like, “Oh, hey, maybe there’s something in there?” I guess perhaps more chocolate would have been useful. But a girl only has so many blocks of semisweet chocolate on hand.

As per usual, ol’ L-Squared put WAY too much filling in the pan and it exploded up and cracked. When it cooled it settled down a bit, but there was still a big X in the middle.

I left it in the fridge for a bit — to give it as much cooling time as possible! — and then decided it would be easier to just pour the dulce de luche on top rather than try to drizzle it and make a pretty pattern. (My pastry bags could have come in handy here, but I had just used them to write on brownies, so I felt like I got adequate Pastry Bag Time last week.) So…I poured caramel all over it and tossed some pecans around and was basically ready to boogie.

Even though it was perhaps a little too warm or gooey, it got a really good reception! I guess it’s hard to go wrong when you use four blocks of cream cheese, chocolate, dulce de leche and nuts. And apparently I didn’t. So. One last time: Happy Birthday, Jaclyn!

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