A Cookie a Day: Hello Dolly Bars

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Carrie Vasios Mullins

For a cookie so simple, Hello Dolly bars go by many names—it's just as likely that you know them as Magic Cookies or Seven Layer Bars. But no matter their moniker, these are a special breed of cookie-bar hybrids. The kind that leave you sticky fingered, crumb-dusted, totally stuffed, and yet, against all logic, still wanting more. No, not one more. A LOT more.

It all starts with a graham cracker crust: a simple, virtually effortless mix of melted butter and graham cracker crumbs (you can buy them already crumbed at the grocery store). The base is pressed flat in a pan and then covered with pretty much whatever you want—this recipe calls for chopped pecans and chocolate chips, but any combination of nut, chip, oat, and dried fruit would be equally at home. Next, you dump a flurry of shredded sweetened coconut over the entire surface. At this point, it's tempting to forgo the baking and just dump the whole thing over a bowl of ice cream. Which, incidentally, would be delicious. But if you hold out just a moment longer, you'll see why these are worth the wait.

Because now it's time for sweetened condensed milk, that sticky-sweet, syrupy dessert god in a can. And you pour it all over everything. It'll seem like too much. But it's not; in fact, I suspect there's no such thing.

After 30 minutes in the oven, the coconut turns a warm golden-brown; the crust solidifies; the chocolate melts; the condensed milk transforms into a caramelly glue that holds it all together. For a recipe that hits every salty-sweet-nutty-chocolatey-crunchy-chewy note a cookie fiend can dream of, it really (literally!) couldn't be easier.