If you have a sweet tooth, you definitely love 7-layer bars if you have ever tried them. These are the ooey-gooey dessert bars that have a buttery graham cracker crust, and six more layers of deliciousness on top. You often find them in bake sales, potlucks, and holiday parties, and they sell quick and are certainly a crowd-pleaser.
A Sweet Treat with a Mysterious Name
Where did these bars came from and why they are called 7-layer bars? If you know, please let us know. They don’t actually have seven layers, although many recipes do have seven ingredients. The origin of these bars is not very clear, and they have many other names depending on where you live. Some people call them magic cookie bars, coconut dream bars, or hello dolly bars.
The first appearance of these bars in print seems to be in the mid-1960s, around the same time as the Broadway musical Hello Dolly starring Carol Channing. Some sources claim that the name ‘hello dolly bars’ was inspired by the show, but there is no direct evidence for that. One possible source is a food column by Clementine Paddleford in The Week magazine in 1965, where she featured a recipe sent by an 11-year-old girl from Dallas who learned it from her grandmother. The girl named the bars ‘hello dollys’, but she did not explain why.
Not quite sure
Another possible source is an earlier recipe for hello dolly cookies published in the Evening News of Ada, Oklahoma, in 1965. The recipe was similar to the later versions of 7-layer bars, but it did not include coconut or butterscotch chips. It is not clear where the name came from either.
No one knows for sure
Some people think that the name 7-layer bars or magic cookie bars came from Eagle Brand , who put a recipe for these bars on the back of their cans of sweetened condensed milk. The recipe included seven ingredients: butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts, sweetened condensed milk, and coconut. However, it is also not known when Eagle Brand started to use this name or recipe.
Our version of the 7-layer Bar
No matter what you call them or where they came from, 7-layer bars are a classic treat that you can easily make at home. You can also customize them to your liking by using different kinds of baking chips, nuts, dried fruits, or spices.
Which is why we have the Oregon version; land of the filbert. Okay, most of you know it as the Hazelnut , at least that’s what we tell people. The epistemology isn’t important here. They are a really tasty nut, plus hazelnuts are known for going well with chocolate.
You can use any nut you choose. Even a walnut. Go ahead, use the mildly bitter ubiquitous ruin of fudge and carrot cake, it’s your cookie to experiment with. Pecans, however, are an excellent alternative to use. They cook well, with nice textures and good flavors. Truly almost any nut will work just fine, each bringing their own flavorful components.
Fairly straightforward, this class of cookies are baked flat then cut into individual pieces to be served. They will often be less dough oriented compared to traditional cookies, layered or built in a pan before baking. Traditional cookie dough can be pressed into a flat baking pan, cooked, then cut into bars as well.
Oregon 7-layer bars recipe
- 1-1/2 Cups Graham cracker crumbs (DIY 12 full crackers run through a food processor)
- 10 Tablespoons melted butter
- ¾ Cup semi-sweet choc chips
- ¾ Cup white chocolate chips
- ¾ Cup butterscotch chips
- ⅔ Cup chopped hazelnuts or nut of choice
- 1 14 Ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 Cup sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a bowl blend well graham cracker crumbs and melted butter
- Line a 13×9 baking sheet with parchment paper
- Coat paper lightly with cooking oil spray
- Spread graham mix evenly and press into pan with the bottom of a glass or small pot
- In a bowl mix all chips and nuts
- Sprinkle chips and nuts evenly over graham mix
- Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top
- Spread shredded coconut evenly for the top layer
- Bake 20-25 minutes until top is lightly browned
- Let cool or chill completely before cutting