lookin-swell-dolly Recipes

hello dolly bars

As much as I have said more often in the last couple months than you should ever let me get away with that I am so busy! and no time! the truth is that really, truly having no time for the things I really want to have time for terrifies me. I always wonder: are we really so busy or are we just busy being busy? Are there truly ‘not enough hours in the day’ or are we just not using the ones we have well enough? I feel if I allow myself to sorry can’t, too much going on right now I might fall down a slippery slope wherein I start saying that even before I have considered what I am busy with. Come on, surely you know the type.

What I mean is: there is a woman with two children, one under a year old, in our west coast office that wields our interoffice overnight mail for the very best of causes: baked goods. Got a promotion? New employee? Had a bad day? Leaving for greener pastures? Any and all events, no matter how small or mighty, are greeted with a bundle of butter, sugar, chocolate and‚ well, I haven’t figured out all of the ingredients yet, so I just call it “crack” and you will hopefully know that I mean that it is a very good thing.

sweetened condensed milkbutterscotch chipsshredded coconut graham crackers

She is never too busy, and I love that. It gives me hope that you can pick a dozen things from a kiss before bedtime to baked goods on a whim in an interoffice envelope and declare them non-negotiables and that’s just that. Of course, there is also the fact that these things she calls “blondies” are impossibly tasty and wildly addictive, thus always worth the effort. Yet, despite my persistent efforts to pry the recipe from her, she insists that she just “throws some things together,” making it up as she goes along.

I have no idea how to do this, this throwing caution to the wind thing. But, when I saw Homesick Texan’s post about Hello Dolly bars a couple months ago, I said, that’s it! Well, that’s almost it, but I knew I was getting warm. So, on exactly one of those days that I was ‘too busy’ but had a barbeque to go to, I threw my attempt at an imitation of the office goodies together in a flash, packed them up and brought them over. I was convinced they were too sweet, too sticky and cloying but within two minutes of it being opened, people had ransacked them, leaving nary a butterscotch chip for the grazers.

As for their proximity to the original recipe I was shamelessly trying to riff, they’re close. I don’t think she uses any gooey stuff at all, so I might try that next time. Or, I might try it again exactly like this, because, well, they aren’t half, or even a quarter-bad. And once you try one, you’ll never be too busy to make them again.

graham cracker crust graham cracker crust  hello dolly bars hello dolly bars

One year ago: Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake (This cake is in my top five.)

Hello Dolly Bars
Adapted from Homesick Texan, and memory

These are sticky, gooey and both chewy and crunchy and seriously, intensely sweet, but you won’t mind, especially when you find out they take 30 minutes to make.

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 cups graham crackers crumbs (about 8 graham crackers, pulsed in a food processor)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (just under half a small can)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in microwave in heatproof bowl until just melted when stirred. Add graham cracker crumbs. Mix and then press evenly into the bottom of 8×8 baking pan.

Layer coconut, pecans, butterscotch and chocolate chips on top of graham cracker base. Pour sweetened condensed milk over whole mixture.

Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is light brown.

Like all brownie and cookie bars, I find them easier to cut cleanly once they’ve been thoroughly cooled in the fridge, but I also don’t expect you to be able to wait that long.

Because they’re so sweet, I like to cut them into really tiny squares. Those mini-cupcake liners come in handy as well, too, so they don’t all cluster together, not that anyone would mind.

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142 comments on hello dolly bars

  1. I’ve only recently just discovered your blog, and my goodness, every single photography of your culinary creations is positively breathtaking!! These Hello Dolly Bars look incredible!!

  2. Christina

    These look exactly like 7 Layer Cookie Bars. I love them, but they are very sweet and so instead of butterscotch chips I use peanut butter chips because it cuts down on the sweet factor, which is a little much for me. They are yummy either way, though!

  3. I discovered this recipe back in the Spring time…and now my daughter’s new college friends are begging me to bring down a batch this weekend on Parent’s Visiting Day! You see I baked up a batch and sent them down to DC…BIG BIG HIT! I’ve also baked them for our salesmen, our accounting department, and my son’s baseball friends too! They bake up easily and they pack and ship just great too! My recipe calls for a layer of chopped walnuts and sweetened coconut underneath the sweetened condensed milk. Are they ever SWEEEEEEEEEET!

  4. I have called them Seven-Layer Bars, Magic Bars, Hall Family Choco-schotchy Bars, and then Jungle Bars. And when I took them to a gathering and announced them as Jungle Bars, a very bossy guy announced, “Nope, these are Hello Dollys,” and I said, “Well, they aren’t really from a recipe, I sort of combined different things…” and he says, “Nope, Hello Dollys, my mom used to make them. That’s what they are.” So Hello Dollys they have been… I use butterscotch and peanut butter chips, in addition to Ghiradelli Bittersweet morsels, and pour over the WHOLE can of sweetened condensed (I even used a jar of dulce de leche once when I’d forgotten to pick up SCM… boy were those sticky). And sliced almonds in addition to pecans (really I just start dumping out every opened package in my baking cabinet). Never failed. Never. There is a batch on the conference table of my office as I speak.

  5. I have a very similar recipe (Double Delicious Cookie Bars) that is so easy and so delicious. Yours look quite yummy. I would love to put coconut on mine, but the other half will hear nothing of it.

  6. babibi

    oh. my. god. these are the cookies my french teacher taught our class how to make in 7th grade and i’d forgotten how to make them to my great dismay! i’ve dreamt about these and thought they were lost forever in the past. thank you!!

  7. Now you’ve got me. Curses. I’m so over cooking and eating and blogging about farm-fresh vegetables and abstemious little fruit desserts. It’s time to break out the chocolate and the nuts and the caramelly sweet stuff, boo-yah. These bars were a staple of my misspent adolescence, when after indulging in hunger-inducing activities with the rest of my degenerate friends, we would make them…thank goodness the recipe was on the label of the Eagle condensed milk can, and that we could still read, more or less.

    Nowadays I usually ditch the butterscotch morsels and use instead a can of partially caramelized, sort-of-dulce-de-leche’ed condensed milk to glue it all together. I make them as part of multiple holiday cookie platters and gift tins, and they just vanish. You’ve got me jonesing, with my ancient, falling-apart copy of Rose’s Christmas Cookies open, perusing a recipe for a version of these made with three kinds of chocolate, three cups of pecans, and well, excess oozing everywhere.

    Great fun gabbing at City Bakery. Maybe we should have a baking day, and unlock the secrets of baker’s muffins and pretzel croissants, or maybe we should just make a lot of good cocktails and a pan of hello dollies…

  8. Oh, yes. These are fantastic. I have to agree with Pedro 110%, adding the coconut right before the SCM really makes it all toasty and nice. You should try that next time.

    PS: We called them seven-layer bars, too. I’m sure it’s a regional thing. (I’m in Wisconsin.)

  9. Those do look insanely sweet but I’m still intrigued by them. I made Martha Stewart’s rocky road bars last year for Christmas which were a combination of butterscotch chips, caramel, white chocolate, dark chocolate, and some other things. Those ended up being too sweet for me but I’m always drawn in by baked goods that combine a bunch of my favourite things together.

  10. 7 layer bars, hello dolly bars, crack cocaine candy bars…..a rose is a rose is a rose. These lil’ things are amazing no matter what you call them.

    I don’t get the ‘i’m too busy’ hogwash either; i think it’s a terribly perpetuated myth that people are hanging onto with every thread of their being and thinking that it is somehow OK to overschedule their lives to the hilt and feed their kids dinners out of a microwave or the back seat of the car. I’m sorry, but the drive-thru is not quality family time.

    oh vey….don’t get me started. This deserves a forum, or even it’s own blog, to fully explore the realm of ‘i’m too busy’

  11. I’ve started to wake up at 5:30am to go to the gym so that i can leave work at a reasonable time to come home and cook a meal! Because in all that work/errands/gym/appointments/life craze it’s so easy to fall back on ‘i’m tiiiiiired’ excuse. these look so tasty – and since as a child i ate condensed milk by the spoonfuls (the things my mother let me get away with!) – i like any dessert/candy where it makes an appearance! how long do these keep? i.e. if you have only 2 people in the house eating them – what would be the shelf life?

  12. Malva

    This is pretty much like the Seven Layer Magic Cookie Bars, the recipe can be found on the Eagle Brand Website, right under favorites on the main page.

    I make it quite frequently when I’m craving sweets and I’m too busy for “real” baking. I normally make a half recipe, and make a second half recipe within a couple weeks (the leftover sweetened condensed milk keeps that long in the fridge).

    I like to replace the butterscotch chips with Skor chips but really, just about anything sweet works.

  13. You know, sometimes saying ‘i’m tiiired’ is just an excuse not to do something you don’t really want to do, but sometimes…you’re just tiiiiired! I know that for me, saying “no” is really hard, even if I have an overwhelmingly full plate. But I’ve started to realize that if saying “yes” means I’ll fall asleep before kissing my loved one goodnight or be too busy to bake on a whim, then just saying no is the best option. So you’re right — make the important stuff non-negotiable and the rest you’ll make time for when there’s time :).

  14. Mmmmm – these are a favorite – we call them 7 layer bars. I especially like them with a bit of cinnamon mixed in with the graham cracker crumbs & white chocolate in place of the butterscotch. I love cinnamon & chocolate – which brings me to this – I made the babka this weekend! I felt so brave as I have never worked with yeast before. Thanks for the inspiration – AGAIN!

  15. Jim

    I second all the comments labeling those as Seven Layer Bars–and I know them well, because they are possibly the only way I will eat and enjoy coconut.

  16. I very much understand the plague of the busy. That’s always why I want to move to Iowa, cause surely where there are open fields there is more time for Hello Dolly bars? It makes no sense. These look great, and I can’t wait to give them a try being, at times, a homesick Texan, myself.

  17. Oh yes…my mom makes these and they are delicious. She always changes up her chip combination though…you never know if they are going to be peanut butter, toffee, butterscotch, milk chocolate, semi-sweet or dark chocolate. So delicious.

  18. M

    I just read that article in the Tampa newspaper and laughed about the “My food is yours, son” mention. I wish they knew the meaning behind that cause it’s a lot funnier with some context!

  19. Lyn

    I love your blog! I have never added anything in writing, just read but I have to say I love these bars, they are my all time favorite!!!! I tried putting them in the freezer so I wouldn’t eat them all and of course found that they taste even better frozen :-0. They are like candy, you all have to try them you will love them too.

  20. Hey! I was one of those people who ransacked these little gems. Holy Schitt! They were good.
    Anyway, I am at war with ticketmaster. I am SOOOO angry! Do you know any press I can send my story to on my blog–I have sent it to every music related website and contact I know. Let me know if you can think of anyone else I can send it to.

    Joce
    xoxo

  21. akaellen

    I too know them as 7-layer bars. My friend always wants to bicker that they don’t have 7-layers but they do have 7 ingredients so i don’t see the beef. anyway i think they are wonderful and i like that the coconut is moist — i have an abhorrence of too many dry coconut shreds in one place. For those who don’t like coconut I’m sure you can make these without it but I’m not sure they would hold together as well.

  22. auntjone

    The husband calls these ‘devil bars’ because they are sinfully good and he can’t stay the hell out of them. My mom makes them often, and for some reason hers are better then mine even if we follow the exact same recipe.

    I NEVER thought about subbing pb chips for the butterscotch! I love butterscotch but my dad can’t stand the ‘fake’ taste of them. The new caramel bits from Kraft might work, too.

  23. deb

    Re: coconut and other ingredient questions–I forgot to add that this recipe is Swap City; I have a hard time believing that it will not permit any tweak you want to try. Coconut could be swapped or omitted. Peanut butter chips could be swapped for butterscotch (and if you do, please send me one, thank you). Almonds, cashews or other nuts for pecans. How about raisins and granola with cinnamon? And although I haven’t tried it yet, I bet you could chop in some, hm, Skor bars or other melt-worthy candy bar bits for the butterscotch chips. Just don’t tell your dentist, okay? [I’ll update the recipe with this info later.]

  24. Sally

    Eagle actually sells this as a box kit—same ingredients unassembled and ready to put together, but in smaller portions for those of us who can’t use up a bag of butterscotch chips. A nice thing to have on your shelf if you really don’t have time.

  25. These are my very favorite bars EVER! And it’s the same exact recipe I grew up with (did you talk to my mom?). And I hear you about the “I’m so busy” conundrum. My best friend just had her fourth–count them, 4!–child and is a partner in a PR firm in NYC . . . and, she still manages to send thank you notes on time and throw halloween parties for her kids and . . . and . . . some day I’ll learn how she does it. I hope.

  26. Not that these aren’t incredibly simple already, but I’m pretty sure you’re always a fan of having one less dish to wash. So here’s a tip:

    Rather than melting the butter in a bowl and transfering the graham crust to the pan, try this. Put the butter in the pan. Turn on the oven to preheat, and put the pan in the oven while you’re crushing your graham crackers. When the butter is melted, take it out and put the crumbs in the pan, mix it up and pat it in, then proceed as usual. Ta-da!

  27. I’ve never heard of Hello Dolly bars until now. I’m living a sheltered life here in Melbourne, Australia! I would love to give the recipe a go, but I know it will be very hard to find butterscotch chips here.

    I love recipes with condensed milk; they give the final product a chewy, caramelly taste.

  28. This was exactly what I was craving before I even saw your post – I have not eaten them in years(14? 16?) and really had no idea how they are made, which has kept me from recreating them.
    But thanks to you, right now in the oven is my own take: Almond and ww flours plus oats instead of graham crackers, with 74% Guittard chocolate, roasted salted almonds, coconut and raisins.
    Beautiful graham cracker shot by the way. The condensed milk one is lovely too, and it almost makes condensed milk look like something you should eat instead of fixing a broken chair leg with.

  29. Lanni

    Just tried this last night. Used Nestle semi-sweet chocolate morsels, chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, raisins and melted peanut butter drizzled over all of it, then the SCM drizzled over all of that. Was a great hit at work today!

  30. mary beth

    oh hellllloooo dolly! i think i have seen and even made quite some time ago, a similar thing called 7 layer bars. but my oh my these look just too wonderful. i’m gonna try your way – thanks!

  31. Ohh it’s my first time here. Can you hear my excitement? It’s somewhere between the pee pee dance and grey’s anatomy coming on T V.

    Yes! I love this blog THAT much! =)

    I’m printing off recipes right now and just in time because I needed something new to do this weekend.

  32. Cheryl

    Yum! We used to call these Magic Cookie Bars, but I think I’ll rename them to Kate’s “Crack Cocaine Bars” lol

    and I agree with Jim, the only way I’ll eat coconut!

    and how ’bout a version with white & semisweet chocolate chips, dried cranberries?

  33. Susan

    You’ve struck a memory nerve with all of us. My grandmother Alice would make and send to us each Christmas. I have her recipe and we always called them Chocolate Chip bars. I am going to make some to take to work tomorrow! Love this blog, visit every day since I discovered it.

  34. Emily

    Just wondering why you don’t just ask this lovely lady on the west coast for the recipe? If she so generously bakes for others, I would imagine she’d be delighted to share the recipe and know that you love it so much…

  35. My mom has been making these for years( and she always called them Hello Dolly’s). She is from NY so I’m surprised you never heard of them. She always used the whole can of milk and I do too when I make them. Ppl go crazy for them. I add Peanut butter chips as well.

  36. Sue

    In my family, they’ve always been called “dolly bars” and I just made a batch for a little party tomorrow. I’ve never made them with butterscotch chips..too sweet! They’re perfect with just semi sweet chocolate chips, nuts and coconut.

  37. Joanna

    I am not much of a baker, but this is my type of recipe – throw stuff together and pop it in the oven. :) I just finished a batch with half chocolate chips and half peanut butter chips, and walnuts instead of pecans, and it’s taking every bit of my will power not to dive in right this second. My kitchen smells fabulous. Thanks so much for the recipe!!

  38. Carol

    My mom also made these years ago… like in the mid-70’s to about mid 80’s. She called them “California Dream Bars.” Anyone remember that name? She also put in sliced marachino cherries and mini marshmallows. (No butterscotch or peanut butter chips, however… they probably weren’t even around when she first started making these.) Anyway… they’re called “Magic Bars” usually around here. We’re in Michigan… I think those were the two names used in this area. Aside from all name variations, these are definitely one of the best holiday indulgent goodies around!

  39. carmen

    I’ve never had these or made them … until 20 minutes from now, b/c I have them baking up in the oven right now..exciting! Thanks for sharing. Beautiful pictures and beautiful site!

  40. ohhhh i just made these and they were delicious. actually made them 4 days ago, and then had to make another batch yesterday, they went too fast. i’m becoming addicted to making all things on your site!

  41. Denise

    I heard about these bars in a movie called “Dick” with Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst. I had no clue what they were but now I know I’ve had them – my mom called them “Magic Bars” – OH YUM!!!

  42. Donna

    I had that recipe back in the 50’s when Carol Channing played in Hello Dolly’ and was told they got their name from that. That recipe had no butterscotch chips and maybe that is why they seem so sweet to you. They are so sweet! My son always wanted those for his birthday cake. He is almost 50 now and still makes them for his family.

  43. i make these bars for every family get together. It’s gotten to be a bit of a cult following. If I dare show up without them (like i did Christmas day to my sister in laws house) i am rarely forgiven until the next holiday. Mine are made with a full can of sweetened condensed milk and i actually melt the butter right in the oven in the pan, and then press in the crumbs. I also add white chips and sub walnuts…

  44. I’ve always knows these as Magic Bars, but my mom used cornflake crumbs (and a little sugar) instead of the graham cracker crumbs. It made for a crunchier, less sweet crust, if a bit messy. We usually used just chocolate chips, or semisweet chips on one side, milk chocolate on the other (for me).

  45. solongfarewell

    These were absolutely delicious, but I had to double the amount of condensed milk because 1/3 cup barely moistened the top. Even so, the chips barely stuck together and flew everywhere when I sliced my bars.

    Nevertheless, the bars were devoured by my coworkers in about twenty minutes, so obviously the lack of cohesion wasn’t a major issue!

  46. D. Gilliam

    Pardon me, but I grow tired of people apologizing for a “too sweet” recipe. Lady, I’m from the south, and I would no more waste that 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk than a man in the moon. My recipe calls for a full can, and after eating one, I didn’t pucker once!

  47. Diane

    Hmmm….this looks like the Magic Cookie Bar or 7 Layer Bar. My Hello Dolly recipe is different. My mother-in-law (from Milwaukee, WI) gave it to me 30 years ago.

  48. Julie

    These are awesome!! I made them tonight for a party tomorrow night and I had to try them and they are just great! They taste like Almond Rocca’s to me… which makes no sense since there are no almonds in them. Great recipe! Thanks Deb!

  49. Judy

    Hello Dolly Bars…long a staple at my house. My brother made them and brought to our house for Christmas this year….in fact, he and my mom had an argument about who would bring them this year! Gotta love it when your family fights about who will bring food…

  50. Ashley

    Hi Deb- I realize this is an old post and you may have uncovered the “secret” recipe for these bars, but it sounds like your coworker
    s recipe is reminiscent of the Dorie Greenspan’s Chewy, Chunky, Blondies on p. 109 of “Baking.” Her recipe doesn’t call for condensed milk or graham cracker but it is similar in every other way. Just a thought- love your blog. thanks!

  51. Rachel

    So I made these today, in addition to the dulce de leche cheesecake squares, and between both the recipes – one being too easy, and the other being, well, not – I can’t believe that this is the one that came out wrong! I think the coconut’s gotta go on top. My chips all cooked, and did not have “protection” from any of the condensed milk. I think if I had topped with the coconut and a little more condensed milk, it would’ve made these right on. I was kicking myself, tho. Such easiness and, flop. But the eager noshers all disagreed with me, and ate anyway. So, it’s all good really.

  52. Vanessa

    I made these yesterday and I agree with Rachel. They did not turn out as fabulous as yours. They fell apart much too easily. I did expect some of this after reading your advice about letting them chill before I cut them, but it was much too crumbly. I don’t think the sweetened condensed milk permeated well enough. Next time ( and there will be a next time) I’ll use the entire can of sweetened condensed milk.

    Love the photography, makes me drool!

  53. Jessica

    Delicious. Everything goes so well together.

    My grocery store didn’t have butterscotch chips, so I used peanut butter. Just as nice!

    I did have two inclinations that I didn’t follow, and I wish I had:
    (1) Mix the ingredients together. I think, actually, the picture shows this. But the word “layer” made me think it was all the coconut at once, then all the pecans, etc. The ingredients stayed in their respective layers, and the bars are yummy, but it might be nice to have it all interspersed… have each bite be a real sensation.
    (2) 1/3 of a cup SCM is too little. I used 2/3 of a cup, thinking I should just use the whole cup. Or at least something a little more than 2/3 of a cup. Again, the picture shows an overflow of SCM, but with 1/3 of a cup you barely get any cover.

    Trust the 15 minute mark. I kept it in for a little over 17, and get the feeling they’d be even better on the short-bake side.

  54. These were FANTASTIC!!! I came home from work the other night and found myself without a dessert! Disastrous in my house! So, I came on to your site in search of a quick but delicious bar cookie/brownie of some sort. I saw these hello dolly bars and said to myself: DONE! They were perfect because I was able to put them together in no time, pop them in the oven while taking care of everything else for dinner and then I had them in the fridge cooling while we ate dinner. So simple! Like many others, I was out of butterscotch chips but I had some peanut butter chips and also some leftover white chocolate chips. So, I just added both of those to finish them off and they were delicious additions!
    Mine turned out SO good that I already can’t wait till the next time I make these! I can tell that they can become quite easily addictive! Thanks for sharing such a fantastic treat and as a side note from this recipe, I LOVE your site and am so happy to have come across it! It’s always exciting to see what you will share next!

  55. Chris

    I love these! I have the recipe from when I was a kid and no one ever knew what they were when I called them” Hello Dolly bars,” so I started just saying they were layer bars, so they knew what I meant. Glad to hear someone else calls them by their real name – I’m going to start calling them that again. I always make them for bake sales and they sell really well.

  56. emily

    i SOMEHOW managed to mess these up even though they were SO easy. my layers aren’t sticking together :( when i try to cut them into squares it just turns into a crumbled mess. what do you think i did wrong? my only guess is i was too literal about the layers, was i supposed to mix the ingredients more?

  57. Kim

    My daughter had an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party last weekend and I made these for the adults. Everyone loved them! They were a perfect treat!

  58. jenniegirl

    My grandma used to call these “yuck bars” and cut them into little tiny squares and served them once a year with the Christmas cookies. She called them that so the kids wouldn’t eat them, and there would be more for the grown-ups…”like..Oh no…you don’t want to eat a YUCK bar…” when I was about six I sneaked one and then I realized that adults LIE.

  59. Megan

    These are the best things I’ve ever had in my life. Good God, woman. My friend made them for our October 1st party (yes, really…) and I ate about 500.

  60. Heather

    I grew up in Nebraska. We called them Magic Bars. We made them with Walnuts instead of Pecans. Also, we added Christmas colored M&Ms to the recipe. 1 cup of everything – one whole small can of SCM – 1 stick of melted butter with the graham cracker crumbs pressed into the melted butter in a 9×13 pan.

  61. Amy

    Known in my family as seven layer bars, this is one of our Christmas staples, along with lemon bars and gingerbread cookies. It’s good to know that other people make them! I’ve only had one other bakers version, and they were really dry. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months and figured I should get around to commenting. You’ve got a great thing going here!

  62. Hope

    I just took these out of the oven and I hope that I put enough condensed milk in it. Other recipes required a whole can, this one only 1/3c. I also used Pecan Sandies as my crust instead of graham crackers. I hope they turn out good.

  63. Val

    HELLO DOLLY BARS! So yummy! I’ve grown up making these with my Grandma, Mom, and now at 28 years old I make them for my family! Hello Dolly Bars are one of our family traditions, we have them at all celebration; Bridal showers, baby showers, Birthdays…. any excuse to bake these fabulous yummy goodness!

  64. Steffany

    My family has always made Hello Dollies too ! Though my mother’s recipe doesn’t have nuts or the butterscotch chips, just coconut, condensed milk, chocolate chips, and graham cracker crumbs. DELICIOUS. Even people who hate coconut love it (not that I have a problem with that, since I LOVE all things coconut) and she or someone in my family makes them for every big event or holiday, lol ! (:

  65. jayne

    I made two pans of this last night and followed the instructions exactly. I’m having the same problem as Emily (comment 90). I layered like the instructions said, coconut then pecans, butterscotch and chocolate chips, but my bars are crumbling and falling apart! I did the 1/3 cup SCM too…. I don’t know how to fix them; they’re in a bake sale today. I suppose I’ll just squish them down to stick together? Help?

  66. Stephanie

    Hello Dolly Bars are so down-to-earth I think they are the perfect picnic dessert; but did you know that here in Wisconsin we love our bars so much that they are often found on restaurant dessert trays? Especially in what we call Supper Clubs (not truly a club but an old fashioned meat, potatoes and fish fry sort of restaurant that also specializes in Brandy Old Fashioneds). It also makes me smile to hear the name Hello Dolly Bars. My mom calls them by that name – I love the convivial feelings they bring up!
    ps- I melt the butter in the baking dish, sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over it and spread it out. Fewer dishes. Thanks for making me smile often!

  67. JoJo

    My aunt and my mother made these back in the late 60’s and called them Hello Dollies (we lived in Massachusetts). I was a teenager at the time. We always had these at family gatherings and especially at bridal showers. It’s been a looong time since I’ve heard someone outside my family call them by this name.

  68. sara

    Mine came out sooo greasy looking on top when they came out of the oven. Is this how they’re supposed to look? I don’t eat many sweets or sugar or butter…so I’m not used to that. I added white choc and peanut butter chips to the recipe and used a full can of milk because less didn’t seem like it would cover it. Are they supposed to come out looking like little pools of grease on top? lol Eeeek.

  69. Emily

    I made these today and while they’re very tasty, they totally fell apart when I sliced them. I do think they need more sweetened condensed milk to hold them all together. Right now they’re just a pile of chips and crumbs on a plate. Pretty disappointing! If I make them again, I’ll use the whole can. Did anyone else have this problem?

  70. Noelle

    I have to agree about the falling apart thing. They smell divine, but even chilled overnight, they don’t slice into anything resembling “bars”. I will end up serving them, I’m sure, but what gives?

  71. Alicia

    I was inspired by this recipe and the notes about how flexible it is to make a pantry-clearing cookie for a friend’s baby shower last weekend. I didn’t have butterscotch chips or coconut, but I did have dried cherries, dried cranberries, semi-sweet chocolate, sliced almonds and pecans. As I was pulling the ingredients out of the cabinet I suddenly realized what that fruit-chocolate-nut combo reminded me of…

    I made a basic rugelach dough (without sugar, since the filling would be so sweet), rolled it out and cut circles which I plopped into a tartlet pan. I mixed the filling ingredients together and then overfilled my little rugelach tarts, drizzled sweetened condensed milk over them (probably 1/2 T each) and dusted lightly with cinnamon. I’m pretty sure that “rugelach in tart form” says all that needs saying here, but let me add that there were salted brown butter crispy treats and maple-orange cupcakes left over but the tart tray did not have a crumb on it. If anyone else is considering this I have two suggestions: roll the dough thin for a good filling-to-dough ratio, and try putting the sweetened condensed milk into a squeeze bottle or something where you can easily cut off the flow or you’ll drizzle it places you didn’t intend.

  72. Ragin Cajun

    I just came back from Louisiana where I discovered a very homey little restaurant in Lafayette called Johnson’s Boucaniere (authentic, no frills, Cajun grub). They serve bars almost exactly like these called “hello pollies”. Great!

  73. Ny baker

    Wow….wish I had read the comments before baking this. Agree with everyone who said they don’t cut and fall apart. I normally love your recipes but this one I wont try again. Crumbly mess in the pan and no chance at a bar shape. Too bad…because it had all the makings of something great.

  74. alicia

    I understand alot of people have been experiencing really crumbly bars. The only thing that I can think of to help rectify this problem is to increase the amount of condensed milk that you pour in. I traditionally use almost entire can. Yes, this does increase the sweetness greatly but to help avoid this I bake it in a 13×9 pan and adjust the bake time accordingly. It really works wonders! I hope this will help future bakers of this recipe. Cheers!

  75. helena

    Hi
    Living in Perth Western Australia, I too had never heard of hello dolly bars!! omg fantastic. I was wondering if you could suggest another ingredient to replace the butterscoth chips? I am finding it difficult to loate these. Is there a website online that I could purchase these from?
    Helena

  76. Vivienne Plunkett

    I would try Amazon.com – they have everything! They have a United Kingdom version of Amazon so I’m sure you can order from them. Good luck

  77. Eliza Boote

    I just made these and they are delicious! I did do a little adjusting on the recipe though to cut down on the sweetness (rest assured they are still very sweet). Instead of using pecans I used walnuts and I only used about 1/2c of butterscotch and 3/4c of chocolate chips. I also sprinkled some ground sea salt on them at the end after I took them out of the oven. Yum!!!

  78. Melissa M

    Greetings from Paris! I’ve been a long-time follower of your blog and have found great comfort in it as I moved my family of 5 to Paris for a few years. Any interest in doing a book tour over here? There’s a great ex-pat community and I would love to help in any way to make it succeed. Please let me know.

  79. Mindy

    I’ve been making these for years. Always to rave reviews. This is the exact recipe given to me from Brooksy from Kentucky.
    You all should definitely make these, you won’t be sorry. Great chilled too. They also freeze very well.

  80. Mindy

    @ NY Baker. If you cool the tray in the fridge they will cut easily. I chill for a few hours then remove the whole thing to a cutting board and can easily cut them into small squares.

  81. Becka

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!
    My aunt made the Hello Dolly years ago and I loved it.. But she doesnt remember it or the recipe after years.. YOU MADE MY DAY!!

  82. Jeni

    For all of you who have had trouble with the bars falling apart, the answer is indeed use more SCM. I have seen versions this recipe and made my version many times, but this is the first one I’ve seen that doesn’t use the whole can, the SCM is the glue for this recipe, if you don’t use enough they don’t have a chance of sticking together.

  83. Sooze

    How do you think these would be with cinnamon chips instead of butterscotch? I ask because a) I have a bag of cinnamon chips to use; and b) it is so cold, I don’t want to run to the store just for a bag of butterscotch chips! thoughts?

  84. Made these as listed with just 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk and you definitely need to use the whole can! 1/3 cup is not enough! Otherwise, they are perfect! Do you know how long they will last in the fridge?

  85. India

    Made these today for my church’s cafe tomorrow. I think they’ll be a big seller because I’m putting Smitten Kitchen’s name on them. Thanks for a recipe I can trust!

  86. Katie C.

    I made these last night to take to a cookout at work today. I had problems. The top part of the cookie didn’t glue together. When I went back and looked at various recipes, almost all of the other recipes called for the whole can of condensed milk. Why did you just call for 1/3 cup? I’m taking them to the lunch anyway. They still taste great even if they fall apart.

  87. Ally K

    Agree w/ the last comment about the bar falling apart. Something came over me and I made these along side hand pies and cheesy pigs (kolaches) for my friends’ defense- I am in bed reeling now, and rattling off all the great things I could have done! Your blueberry boy bait! ATK brown sugar cookies. Gooey butter cake. I want to jump out of a slow moving taco truck to punish myself for considering something so over the top and… dare I say… clumsy? Hopefully my friend will let me right my wrong one day!

  88. Ro H.

    My older sister taught this recipe to me in 1980. The recipe was called “Magic Cookie Bars” and had the same graham cracker crumb base made with 1 stick of butter and all the cups of different goodies (choc-chips, nuts, coconut) in them, held together with 1 entire can of Sweetened Condensed Milk. Over the years I made these for many many years of cookie give-aways at work for the holidays as well as for birthdays, parties, potlucks, etc. I’ve made many variations of the original recipe too. Using different cookie crumbs for the crust, using different kinds of chips & nuts…adding more or less coconut, depending on what people liked. My own personal favorite is using pecan sandies crumbs for the crust, and my toppings were coconut, chopped macadamia nuts, milk chocolate chips and of course, the SCM. My daughter’s favorite (she’s a mint-fanatic) is a choc-cookie crumb crust, white choc, dark choc & mint choc-chips, a few xmas colored M&Ms and not very much coconut. The SCM holds it all together!! (I bake it in a 13×9 inch pan,at 350 degrees for 30 mins and when it comes out of the oven, as its cooling, I cover a spatula in waxed paper and kinda smoosh it down in the pan to compress the layers, then let it cool completely. Often I also chill it in the fridge for awhile too, before cutting because that also helps the cookies stay together in bar shape. (I’ve even baked several batches of diff kinds of these 1 month before Xmas, chilled them, cut them, packaged them up and kept them in the freezer until the holiday season) These cookies are always popular & disappeared just like magic! (which is probably explains the name)

  89. Halley

    Stupid question: Do you grease or butter the 8×8 before putting in graham crackers? Plus, what’s a girl without a food processor to do? Can you pulse crushed graham crackers in a bender?

  90. deb

    I didn’t, but you can if you’re nervous. You can buy preground graham crumbs in some sorts, or you can put crackers in a bag and bash them up with a rolling pin or heavy skillet.

  91. Halley

    Thanks, Deb! I love, love, love your blog! You’ve saved my life many of times. Suggestion: Post (what you think is) the perfect sugar cookie recipe!

  92. Laurie

    I have made Hello Dollies for years, love them. I also use the whole can of scm, and to cut the sweetness, I use rits crackers or waverly crackers instead of the graham crackers. Chilling them before really helps when you are cutting them. I also make these in a 9 x 13 glass pan.

  93. Halley

    Deb,

    Going back to the sugar cookies, the best ones that I recently made were The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies from Allrecipes.com. Many moons ago, my mum and I used to make sugar cookies from a Betty Crocker recipe that included shortening, but they were as perfect as the days are long. Personally, now that I’m not an eleven year-old in silver lipstick who lives to eat her emotions, I can’t even stand the sight of shortening and I try to avoid any recipe that calls for it. After trying a few different sugar cookie recipes (both vegan and non-vegan), this is the best match to my childhood favorite. I highly recommend that you give them a day in court. I used this for my Halloween cut-outs and received nothing but positive feedback (some pun intended).

  94. Halley

    One last question: I want to bring a coffee element to these. How can I go about incorporating instant coffee crystals or instant espresso powder? Can I mix it with the s.c.m. if need be? What would you suggest?

  95. Megan

    Sadly, I also ruined these bars. Like Emily (see comment 90) I think I was too literal–I followed the order listed when layering the ingredients. Big mistake to have all of the chocolate and butterscotch chips on top. I think I should have ended with the coconut and pecans (probably more mixed together than distinct layers). Sigh, I was making them to thank a group of volunteers and I told them I was bringing them a treat. I have to show up empty handed now:(

  96. Lori

    Hi – I realize this is a very old post – but perhaps you get notifications anyways. I just made these today and fear I over-baked them. They came out very crispy – we’re thinking they might make a good topping for ice cream. As I was making them and pouring on the condensed milk – I got to wondering how it might work if instead of assembling bars and then putting on condensed milk – if you mixed all the toppings in a bowl along with the milk and then spread onto the crust. Have you ever tried that? Seems like it might eliminate the big globs that always happen to me when I make these kind of bar recipes. Curious as to others experiences. thx

  97. jwg

    As I began assembling these I said to myself, “Maybe you should grease the pan. But Deb didn’t tell me to so I won’t.” Which is why the cookies became one with my old and thin metal pan. And even if I could have removed them from the pan in one piece the top really never congealed. Maybe more condensed milk or a 9″ pan. Or parchment?