What’s Cookin’ – Holiday Seven Layer Bars

One of our favorite holiday recipes is one for Hello Dolly Dainties which are also known as Seven Layer Cookies.

When I saw a version for these same cookies in the November / December 2011 issue of Midwest Living magazine, it caught my eye.  It included green and red candy coated pieces along with dried fruit bits which makes it a festive colored version of this holiday classic.

After making a batch, however, I modified the recipe a bit for both ingredients and technique.  First of all, the original recipe called for mixed nuts, but I found that the larger nuts did not work well in the recipe.  We love almonds so I substituted them, but you could also use cashews or peanuts successfully.  I found that packages of dried fruit bits were very expensive so I substituted dried cranberries which not only come in larger packages, but they are more cost effective than the small packages of dried fruit bits.

Next, I have modified my technique when making most bar type cookies.  I spray or grease my pans and then line them with parchment paper.  This way I can remove the baked bar cookies from the pan and cut them into squares more easily.  This means that I do not melt the butter in the baking pan, but instead I mix the butter and crumbs for the crust in a separate bowl and press into the prepared pan.  It may mean I have a few extra dishes to wash, but it also makes the final product more firm and less likely to crumble out of the pan.

Finally, the original recipe called for pouring the sweetened condensed milk directly onto the crumb crust prior to sprinkling the dry ingredients on top.  I add the sweetened condensed milk last.  Again, I think this makes the final product more cohesive and less likely to crumble and fall apart once it is cut into bars.

In any event, if you like Hello Dolly Dainties (aka Seven Layer Bars) and coconut, then you will love this version.  Using red and green candy coated pieces (holiday M&Ms) and the red dried cranberries along with the white chocolate not only makes a really great tasting holiday cookie, but it makes a festive colored treat for your Christmas Cookie trays, too!

Holiday Seven Layer Bars – ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350° F.  If desired, prepare your 9×13 baking dish by coating with cooking spray or shortening and lining with parchment paper.  If you want, you can omit lining the pan and prepare and serve directly out of the baking dish.

Melt the butter and add the vanilla wafer crumbs.  Mix well.

Press the crumbs into a prepared pan.

Layer the dry ingredients by sprinkling over the crumb crust.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the dry ingredients.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Allow the bars to cool completely.  Hint – you may want to run a sharp knife along the edges once the bars are partially, but not completely, cooled.  This will make removal later a little easier.

If you have lined your pan, you can remove them by carefully lifting them from the pan, loosening them, if necessary, by running a sharp knife along any edges that are sticking.

Cut into 30 pieces.

Don’t these look pretty?   Eat and enjoy.


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