Original Magic BarIf you Google looking for 7 Layer Bar recipes, most of what you will find are bars listing these five basic layers - though many do also add another layer of butterscotch chips - yet they all seem to count the graham crackers and butter as individual layers. Some recipes do melt the butter, and then simply pour the graham crackers on top, rather than mixing and pressing them in, so I guess that's one way to consider them separate layers. Others layer the bars differently, adding the coconut right on top of the graham crackers, some chips and then the coconut, and pouring the sweetened condensed cream on the very top. I really don't think that the order of the layers much matters to be honest.
At any rate, this recipe is the one that I believe to be the original Magic Bar recipe, of which that 7 Layer Bar recipe was apparently birthed. Far as I know, the bars made their debut as Magic Bars on the Eagle brand condensed milk label sometime in the early 1960s, so it is another retro recipe that has been around for many years and has definitely become a holiday tradition, with a multitude of variations.
No matter how you layer them, a graham cracker and butter crust makes the first layer, topped with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, or a mixture of butterscotch and chocolate chips, a layer of coconut, finished off with pecans, and then baked. Truly, anything after that is just lagniappe for a bar that is already just dreamy.
I found that a lot of people know these Hello Dollies, a name that appears to have come from a 1965 magazine called "The Week" that featured a recipe submitted by young 11-year old Alecia Leigh Couch of Dallas, Texas, called Hello Dolly Cake, that contained these same basic five ingredients. Alecia said that the recipe was from her grandma, though it appears that an Oklahoma newspaper had earlier that same year, already published Hello dolly Cookies, with similar ingredients.1
The recipe is also known by a number of other names beside 7-Layer Bars, including 7-Layer Cookies, Chewy Delights, Chocolate Graham Squares, Graham Chips Squares, Washington Cookies, and of course, Magic Bars, and carries a multitude of variations now. Make the white chocolate variation with dried cranberries for Christmas and drizzle the top with raspberry jam.
What variations do you love?
1Source: The Big Apple
Recipe: Original Magic Bars - 7 Layer Bars©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 25 min | Yield: About 24 squares
- 1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs (about 8 planks)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, melted
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1-1/3 cups flaked coconut
- 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; mix well. Press crumb mixture firmly on bottom of 13×9-inch baking pan. Pour condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with remaining ingredients; press down firmly.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Run a knife around the edge of the pan while still warm to loosen. Cool on a wire rack. Chill if desired to speed up firming. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
7 Layer Bars - Hello Dollies Variation: What makes these 7-Layer Bars and I "think" what sets apart Hello Dollies from regular Magic Bars, is the addition of 1 cup of butterscotch chips along with the 1 cup of chocolate chips. All other ingredients are the same, though in some recipes, I have noticed that the graham cracker crumbs and the coconut are reduced. Peanut butter flavored chips or white chocolate chips may also be substituted for butterscotch flavored chips.
Variations: Add 1 cup butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, or a mixture; add 1 cup dried cranberries; substitute 2 cups chocolate covered peanuts for the chocolate chips and chopped nuts; substitute 2 cups plain M&Ms for the semisweet chocolate chips.
Great holiday idea! Use only white chocolate chips (NO semi-sweet ones), add in some dried cranberries, and drizzle the top with some thinned raspberry jam after baking.
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