I have guilt about some things…..some are rational but most are not.
I am talking about something that sorta gnaws at your psyche whenever triggered by eyes, ears, nose or throat.
Let me start from the beginning.
Yes, as you might have guessed….I have a story to tell.
Picture this: 1980 and I have a brainstorm! I am going to put together a cookbook of recipes from all my friends and family.
So, I start my campaign by calling and talking to anyone and everyone and asking for 3 recipes…. An entree, a side dish and a dessert and if they happen to have another recipe they would like to throw in the pot….great! The more the merrier so to speak.
Thankfully, I was inundated with recipes…and I hauled out my typewriter….(I did not have a computer back then) and I began to type recipes, two to a page as I compiled my cookbook.
If you had seen my dining room table, with me typing away, a pencil stuck in my messy hair bun, recipes
strewn stacked in piles around the table….sipping on a glass of iced tea, you might have thought I looked a bit like Jessica Fletcher in “Murder She Wrote”!
First confession: is I did get all the recipes typed.
Second confession: is I did make most of the yummy recipes myself just to see if they were really as good as they looked. And they were!
Third confession: is I made an executive decision to not include recipes that looked as if they had been an afterthought by the person providing the recipe….such as open a can of corn, add pimento and put in a pan and heat on stove. I wanted recipes that shouted “Make Me”!
I know, I know…. my bad!
Oh, and 4th confession: I did finally get the little booklet of recipes put together. I made a front and back cover of Kelly green construction paper cut in half and I held the recipe pages together with two bright gold brads. I then used my Calligraphy pen to scroll the title …FAMILY AND FRIENDS FAVORITE RECIPES….but unfortunately there are a few people who did not get a copy because as in the real life of book writing and publishing…well, sort of publishing…and sort of book writing….I know, I am taking liberties here…..a major crisis happened and everything went all topsy-turvy. It was a very unfortunate time in our lives and what happened really is not relevant…the fact remains that a few friends and family did not get copies of the home-made cook book.
So fast forward to last evening….my baseball team, KC Royals… had their game postponed, so I used my time to search through my recipe files for recipes to share with you, my dear readers.
And you guessed it, I came across one of the recipes that I had deemed an “afterthought” recipe…handwritten in Helen’s handwriting.
And I smiled because I have indeed made this recipe many, many times and found it very rich and delicious,… but her recipe did not make the “cut” to the cookbook.
The name of the recipe you ask?
Do any of you remember the song Hello Dolly made famous by the pretty blond lady named Carol Channing?
Ok, let me tell you about this recipe just in case any of you have not heard of it.
It is made by just adding 7 layers to a baking dish, much like a 7 layer taco dip (which did make the cut, by the way)…go figure. I am sure I thought the ingredients looked and sounded better in the taco dip than the ingredients in the Hello Dollies! I don’t know….who knows my state of mind 36 years ago???? Anyway, you toss the layers in and bake and that is it.
But the actual recipe is much older than that. At least 50 years old. It is believed to have appeared in 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 ingredients. Alecia said that the recipe was from her grandma, and she liked the musical “Hello Dolly” (which appeared on Broadway in 1964), so that is the name she chose for her recipe. However, it appears that an Oklahoma newspaper had earlier that same year, already published Hello dolly Cookies, with similar ingredients. And there are those that have said the recipe (called Magic Bars) appeared on the back of a can of Eagle Brand condensed milk, long before 1965.
Most likely, you have heard of this recipe. Some of the names are: 7-Layer Bars, (including 7-Layer Cookies), Chewy Delights, Chocolate Graham Squares, Graham Chips Squares, Washington Cookies, and of course, Magic Bars, and these days there have been a multitude of variations! There is also the white chocolate version with dried cranberries, drizzled with raspberry or strawberry jam that you might see at Christmas time.
So what are these magic 7 ingredients you may ask?
1. Graham crackers
3.Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
4.Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
You can add peanut butter chips, chocolate chunks, chocolate graham crackers, cinnamon sugar graham crackers, crushed pretzels, dried cranberries, chocolate covered peanuts, M&M’s, white chocolate chips …just go wild with whatever you have on hand or would like to have in your “Magic Bars”
Soooooooo last evening, the Hello Dollies recipe triggered that old guilt feeling….
NOW….final confession and apology:
“I am so sorry Helen that I did not include your Hello Dollies in my little cookbook 36 years ago. It was not an afterthought recipe and just because I did not like coconut (at that time…I love it now) or for whatever reason I deemed the recipe an afterthought recipe, it is definitely a winner and should have been included in the cook book….I so award it this day, one of the easiest and best tasting recipes to whip up when company appears at the front door. Please forgive me!”
There! I feel better, the guilt has eased some… although I am not sure Helen will feel better. You see, she didn’t get one of the cookbooks either, so she doesn’t know that her Hello Dollies recipe did not make the cut 36 years ago. (After my “crisis”, she and her family moved to the country and then we moved and then…..well, you know how that goes).
Until now, that is… if she is reading this.
Call me Helen. We need to talk!
Blessings always to all! (Especially Helen)
- 1-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs (about 8 whole graham crackers)
- 1/2 cup butter melted (1 stick)
- 1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed milk (do NOT use evaporated milk)
- 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup of butterscotch chips
- 1-1/3 cups flaked coconut
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Crush graham crackers to a fine crumb (use processor if you have one) and add the melted butter
- Add parchment paper (for easy removal) and press the crumb mixture firmly on the bottom of 13×9-inch baking pan.
- Pour Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.
- Begin layering the chips, coconut and nuts and press down firmly.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes and cool slightly
- Cut into squares and carefully lift out of baking pan by the edges of the parchment paper.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Store covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- This is a great quick dessert that is very rich and delicious. Loved by all.