(Studly cousin Jeff on Christmas morning 1984, in front of the festive tablecloth-covered cookie card table.)
I didn't know back then that they were a relatively common bar cookie. I didn't know that anyone else had ever heard of Hello Dolly bars. I thought my extended family was really onto something...a super-secret amalgamation of graham cracker, nuts, chocolate, butterscotch, coconut and Eagle Milk.
For you see, my aunt -- the one with the cookie card table -- is named Dolly. (Actually, she is named Georgeann, but everyone throughout the history of time has only called her Dolly.) And she is an amazing cookie-baker (she made all the cookies for my wedding favors). I thought the cookies were named for her. Like, Hello, Dolly! We are here to eat your cookies! It wasn't until, like, 2003 that I realized they were (a) common, and (b) named after Carol Channing. OK, I don't know if they were named after Carol Channing, but I know for certain that they weren't named after Georgeann Shearer.
But just because something is popular doesn't mean it's not perfect in every way. (See: Glee, Tater Tots, "Single Ladies.") I'm happy I can't imagine Christmas without a pan of Hello Dolly bars. I'm glad that I can still picture them on the card table, next to those peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's Kisses planted firmly atop them.
So though Hello Dolly bars are nothing special, they are most special to me. If someone told me that I could only have one cookie at Christmastime, I would choose the Hello Dolly bar. They're rich, and sweet, and crumbly, and more than able to support a childhood's worth of happy Christmas memories.
Even if they're not named after my aunt.
HELLO DOLLY BARS
These delicious cookies are an absolute snap to make. Which is good for when you need a quick dessert (or for when you have a craving).
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 18 graham crackers, pulsed in the food processor)
1 c. sweetened coconut
6 oz. butterscotch chips
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. walnuts, roughly chopped
1 14-oz. can sweetened, condensed milk (I prefer Eagle Brand)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melt the butter over low heat directly in a 13" x 9" metal pan. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the butter and mix to combine. Using your fingers, pat the graham cracker crust into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
Sprinkle the coconut over the crust, followed by the butterscotch chips, chocolate chips and walnuts. Drizzle the sweetened, condensed milk evenly over the cookies, then bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars.
Makes 3 dozen cookies.