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Maybe you haven’t heard of 7 Layer Magic Bar Cookies? Did your grandma (like mine) call them Hello Dollies? If none of these rings a bell, then pull up a chair, because these 3 name, gluten free 7 Layer Magic Bar Cookies aka Hello Dollies are an addictive chocolatey, grahamy, coconutty, ooey gooey delicious favorite!
I still don’t know why my Grandma called them “Hello Dollies”, but they are so much more than just “cookies.” They are “empty-your-pantry, suit-your-taste, won’t-last-one-day-in-your-house” bars!
I’ve given you some suggested ingredients and proportions in my recipe below, but don’t hesitate to tailor these bars to what you have on hand and what you want in your mouth! Chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips (use a gluten free brand!), pecans, coconut, oats – whatever you want to layer on these bars, just don’t forget the graham crackers and the sweetened condensed milk that seal the deal and hold these bars together.
There are coconut sweetened condensed milks available now, but if you’d like to make your own or can’t find one at the store, I’ve also provided you with a recipe to make your own dairy-free sweetened condensed milk below the cookie recipe (since I’m dairy-free, these bars are pictured with the homemade dairy-free milk version).
It’s a handy substitution for many other recipes (like fudge!) as well, so be sure to print it for future use! I used So Delicious® Culinary Coconut Milk — one of my favorite dairy-free ingredients. It makes wonderful homemade whipped cream, too!
Sweetened condensed milk is simply evaporated milk (approximately 60% concentrated milk) plus granulated sugar.
To make, combine the milks and sugar into a large saucepan, stirring over medium heat until the sugar is fully dissolved and the milk has thickened quite a bit. Stir periodically so that the milk doesn’t scald as it bubbles, and remove from the heat when the milk is thicker and has reduced to 14-16 ounces. This process may take 1-2 hours, so budget your recipe time accordingly.
Once thickened and reduced, allow the mixture to cool somewhat before using in your recipe. Pour milk through a strainer into a large measuring cup and divide out 13-14 ounces for this recipe, storing any unused milk in a sealed container in the refrigerator for use in another recipe (use within a week).
Preheat oven to 350° F (static); 325° F (convection).
Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil to make the bars easier to remove. Melt the butter and pour into the lined dish, pour the crumbs into the pan on top of the melted butter, but do not stir. Layer the remaining ingredients in the order outlined below:
Finally, pour the sweetened condensed milk over the bars in a lattice pattern. Ultimately, the milk will fill in over the entire top and seep into and around the other ingredients to hold them together into a bar cookie.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, just until the milk has turned a light brown color. Allow to cool, then refrigerate until solid before cutting bars. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve chilled or slightly warm topped by your favorite ice cream (I love So Delicious® Almond Milk Dairy Free, Vanilla flavor!)
*This recipe and over 149 more, also available in my newest cookbook, Free for All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy!