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!
They’re like s’mores but better. Chocolate chip cookies but better. Blondies but better. They kindof defy description.
And now, they’re gluten free, dairy free & even vegan, thanks to this recipe. You’re welcome (or maybe your hips say not?!?).
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, gluten free oats – whatever you want to layer on these bars will be delicious.
Just don’t forget the gluten free graham crackers and the sweetened condensed milk that seal the deal and hold these bars together … magically!
I actually make lots of gluten free graham crackers at one time (one can of my gfJules Gluten Free Graham Cracker Mix actually makes 100 crackers!), bake them, then crush them into crumbs for pie crusts and occasions like this one where I want some gluten free graham cracker crumbs fast!
It makes recipes like this one super quick and easy (and much less expensive that store-bought!).
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 use canned coconut milk — one of my favorite dairy-free ingredients. It makes wonderful homemade whipped cream, too!
If you’d like to also use peanut butter chips but need a vegan version, there are some you can buy on-line now, and also some yummy recipes to make your own! Bring on the layers!
Gluten Free 7 Layer Magic Bar Cookies (Hello Dollies) Recipe
These Gluten Free 7 Layer Magic Bars (easily made vegan, as described) are layers of chocolate-coconutty-grahammy deliciousness that meld perfectly together to make a quick and easy dessert that will please any crowd!
- 7 Tbs. butter or non-dairy alternative (Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks, may use Soy Free)
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free graham crackers, crushed (made from gfJules® Graham Cracker Mix)
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup purity protocol and Certified Gluten-Free Oats
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or a combination, dairy or non-dairy (like Enjoy Life® dairy-free chips)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
- 14 oz sweetened, condensed milk (or vegan/non-dairy recipe below) or Nature's Charm Coconut Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 22-24 oz. coconut milk
- 3/4 cup granulated cane sugar
Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk
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).
Magic Bar Cookies
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:
- gluten free oats
- chocolate chips
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!
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So quick and easy, and pleasing every sweet palate!
Because I really like the 7 Layer Bars (Magic Cookie Bars/Hello Dollies, etc.) with no cinnamon, I recommend making and crushing your own graham crackers with gfJules flour rather than using the mix, which does contain cinnamon. Same for using in gluten free graham pie crust where you don’t want cinnamon. I prefer my cinnamon in cinnamon rolls instead, which I also make with gfJule’s flour!
Baking from scratch allows for total control! Always nice to have options — so glad you’ve found your sweet spot, Miriam!
How long can you store the magic bars? How long do they last?
Hi Amy, yes! You can absolutely store them for about a week, longer if you refrigerate or freeze, of course. Enjoy!
Looks delicious! What can I use in place of the oats? My grandson is sensitive to oats .
Hi Maria, you can absolutely skip the oats! If he’s ok with nuts, choose another nut he likes and do a layer of that, or just skip it altogether. Enjoy!
The recipe became famous during the 60′s when Hello Dolly was on Broadway. During the show, there is a restaurant scene. Clementine Paddleford’s (our countries first food journalist, the original foodie!) food column in “The Week “ magazine on September 19, 1965 featured a “Hello Dolly Cake” which an 11 year old girl borrowed from her grandmother. The recipe included graham crack crumbs, flaked coconut, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and condensed milk.
Ahhhhh thank you SO much for that bit of food trivia! I love it – what a great story (and a great recipe!). Thanks, Michelle!
Probably a good idea to use Jules graham cracker flour and make your own as GF graham crackers that you can purchase have sunflower oil in them and it is a very bad oil and I like many people are very allergic. I remember making these as a child before I was GF – called them magic bars I think, or maybe 7 layer. Not had them since GF but will make them soon – yum.
Thank you Jules!
Hi Terri, so glad this recipe brings back fond memories for you and I hope you enjoy it as a gluten free version! Glad to know you also love my gfJules Graham Crackers! You’re right: you can control the ingredients you add, so it’s always a safer bet!
These are out of this world . Thanks for the recipe.
So happy to tried the recipe, April! They are pretty darned yummy!!!
“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.”
We heat the milk for 1-2 hours?
Hi Stephanie, good question. Yes, you’ll be heating the milk for awhile. The idea is for the extra liquid to evaporate during the slow cooking time, leaving you with something akin to evaporated milk. The milk solids are left behind with much less liquid. This process can take some time, since you don’t want to scald or burn the milk. I hope that helps explain it!
O how lovely! That is my favorite so delicious product too! The lite culinary coconut milk! Always have a few bottles stocked in my pantry!
It’s definitely handy to keep around, Rebecca! Thanks for stopping by – enjoy the recipe!
These look really straight forward and yum! Thanks for sharing these!
You bet, Gloria! I know your family will love them too!!!
Magic Bars are a favorite at my house – I have to hide them when I make them for gifts at Christmas lol. I just recently found some coconut milk sweetened condensed milk at our Co-op but it’s nice to know that you can easily make it at home too!
Wow, Sharon, coconut milk sweetened condensed milk already made IS a find! It’s truly easy to make, but nice to know there’s something out there to buy in a pinch, too!
So glad that you included the non-dairy evaporated milk instructions! But, do you know if anything could replace the oats? I haven’t been able to successfully reintroduce them yet, after 3 1/2 years gf.
Thank you so much for sharing!
Hi Donna, so glad the dairy-free sweetened condensed milk recipe will be helpful to you, too! As for oats, you can leave them out (6 layer bars, anyone!?) — they’re not critical here. Otherwise, try quinoa flakes or rice flakes!
Have you tried “Bob’s Red Mill, GF Rolled Oats”? It comes in Old Fashion and Quick. The Old Fashion looks like the whole rolled oat and is more chewy. The quick looks like it has been put in a food processor. They come in 2 pound bags and are Kosher. The bar code for the Quick is 3997800376 & Old Fashion is 3997800375 and are $9.00 to $10.00 each. I get at my grocery store’s health food section and they do carry other Bob’s Redmill items. http://www.bobsredmill.com
Hi Esther, I do not use or recommend Bob’s Red Mill oats, as they are not purity protocol, and therefore not recommended for anyone with celiac disease or serious gluten sensitivity. You can check out more information on gluten free oats and how to shop for safe oats in my article linked here. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the recipe for magic cookies, especially the recipe for sweetened condensed ‘milk’. I’ve been craving these, my favorite cookies, ever since going gluten/dairy free. Now that I have a recipe, I’m going to be making them soon.