Emily Wyckoff

Seven Layer Cookie Bars: The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts

When I was in grammar school I had a close friend whose life was the opposite of mine in many ways. She lived on a cul de sac in the suburbs, I lived in the city with no driveway. Her parents both worked, my mother stayed at home (but still working, as she would remind me). She was the youngest with two older siblings in high school, I was the oldest – by far – with my closest sibling ten years younger than me – a baby. Her mother baked, my mom did not.

I spent many a weekend at her home and the breakfasts were like nothing I had ever experienced. While we had a decent weekend breakfast – my dad was all-time french toast maker on Sunday mornings, my friend’s was something else all together. I have fond memories of grits topped with melted butter and real pork sausage; I came home and asked my mom if we could have grits and sausage for breakfast. She changed the subject (wise woman – I have learned from her).

Whenever our school had bake sales my friend’s mom would send in Hello Dollies, also known as Seven Layer Cookie Bars and I fell in love. I never knew what was in them, but they were out of this world. Chewy with a graham cracker crust and studded with chocolate – but not too much – wow. When I got a little older and started baking I began making them and was amazed to find out they are pretty much the easiest cookie to make on the planet. No bowl required, they are sturdy and keep well and are open to interpretation – I have replaced the original recipe’s butterscotch chips with peanut butter chips, I have used mini m and ms instead of chocolate chips, I have omitted the nuts for my husband (who by the way swears he hates coconut yet there is plenty in these babies), I have replaced the graham cracker crumbs with crushed oreos – the possibilities are endless. Bring them to your Memorial Day get together this weekend and you are assured an easy wow.

Seven Layer Cookie Bars


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk (in the baking aisle and carefully look at the label – you don’t want unsweetened or evaporated)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter chips

1 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Melt the butter in the microwave and pour into pan so the pan’s bottom is evenly coated. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over butter and press down lightly with your fingers so it’s even. Pour the condensed milk over the graham cracker crust. Then layer, in order, with the chocolate chips, the peanut butter chips, the coconut and the walnuts. Press down firmly all over with a the back of a fork and bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned and firm. Let cool and lift foil out of pan and cut into bars. Makes 24.

10 Responses to “Seven Layer Cookie Bars: The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts”

  1. Michele says:

    These are my absolute favorite bars, and made them often for my kids. They’re also called Magic Cookie Bars, because you throw all this stuff together and then magically…they’re delicious!

  2. Maria says:

    Do you need to have the coconut? I REALLY don’t like it, but wonder if you need it in order for it to be chewy. How about dried cranberries or cherries? Marshmellows?

  3. Plan B Mom says:

    maria – i think the condensed milk provides the real chewy factor – try the cranberries and let me know how they turn out!

  4. Lisa says:

    Yum! I had forgotten about these cookies! Thanks for the reminder, and your substitutions sound great!

  5. Betty says:

    I use Butterscotch chips instead of peanut butter. I think that was the original many, many years ago.

  6. Maria says:

    I made the bars this weekend with the cranberries instead of the coconut…AMAZING!!! The only thing I would do differently is chill them in the fridge before cutting, that would give them a cleaner cut. Otherwise, all my friends have inhaled them.

  7. Tammy Howard says:

    I have not had these since I was little. My grandma used to make them for me. They are very rich but oh so yummy!

  8. buy moncler says:

    When you head of something you never touch before, do you have an eager to have a try? I think we all have a heart full of inquisitive minds to meet them. We try once, we can know the real thing it is and we will get more. Nice post! Thank you for sharing the meaningful.

  9. Krystyna In Sydney says:

    I love these bars When I lived in the USA 30 yrs ago I found a very similar recipe on the back of EAGLE Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. i have since found it is less crumbly when cutting the baked Cookie Bar if you first mix the cracker crumbs with the melted butter & then you pat it into the baking pan I also find it better if you pour the condensed milk last over the other ingredients
    I hope this will be of help to other young cooks out there I started cooking this when I was 24 & I am now 60 & living back in Sydney Australia

  10. sounds very delicious, thanks.

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