Are you tired of chocolate after Valentine’s Day? I hope not, because I made these recently and had to share them – and they have a lot of chocolate!
Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Especially in my cooking. In fact, I rarely follow a recipe exactly, often to avoid a last minute visit to the store. The lengths I’ve gone just to avoid this trip are pretty crazy, and we’ve eaten some questionable meals as a result. I just hate running out to the store for a last minute item. And that’s how this recipe came to be.
I was making a dessert for a recent get together and decided on Hello Dolly bars, often called seven layer bars (despite only having 6 layers, why is that?). These are great layer bars with a cookie or graham cracker crumb base, then layers of chocolate chips, toffee chips, coconut, pecans, and finally sweetened condensed milk which ends up soaking in and binding everything together. They are a pretty common Southern dessert and I had everything . . . except the toffee chips. And I just didn’t have the time (or desire) to run to the store for this one item. So, I decided to improvise. Originally I was just going to double the chocolate chips and omit the toffee ones, but then I thought, why stop there? If the bars were going to lose a layer, they needed something else to boost them a bit, like more chocolate! So I decided that instead of normal sweetened condensed milk on top, I’d use CHOCOLATE sweetened condensed milk. This was easy enough to whip up with the unsweetened chocolate I had on hand, and viola! A new bar cookie that I think is better than the original, despite only having 5 layers.
By the way, do you see the edge of that oven mitt in the top picture? It’s vintage (from a great aunt of Tim’s) and delightfully tacky. I love it!
Since I was cooking for a crowd, I made these in a 9×13 pan, but the recipe can easily be halved for an 8×8. They are super sweet so I’d cut them into small pieces. A small piece should satisfy any sweet tooth, but that doesn’t mean you won’t end up eating two . . or three.
Double Chocolate Hello Dolly Bars
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full size crackers)
3 tbs. butter, melted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans (you can toast them in the oven while preheating, but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn)
1 15oz can sweetened condensed milk (fat free is fine)
3 oz unsweetened baker’s chocolate
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Either line the bottom of the 9×13 pan with parchment paper or generously grease the pan. These bars are sticky!
2. Place the graham cracker crumbs in a medium bowl, drizzle with butter, and and mix until moistened. Gently pat the mixture into an even layer in the pan. Don’t pack it too tightly, as the milk will need to seep down into this layer.
3. Add the chips in an even layer, then repeat with an even layer of the coconut, followed by the pecans.
4. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl by zapping it in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring after each cycle until melted and smooth. Then add the sweetened condensed milk, and stir till combined.
5. Pour the sweetened condensed milk mixture evenly over the top of the layer bars. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.
6. Cool completely before cutting.