I MADE DESSERT! Sorry, it’s just so rare these days, I feel like I have to break out the caps lock — and the strong tags. I stopped myself at italics.
My mom and I are in the early stages of Christmas baking planning. I know. It feels so early, but with my travel schedule in November, the holidays feel like they are right around the corner. My mom literally has thousands upon thousands of recipes saved in binders so the possibilities feel endless. While Christmas always feels like the cookie holiday, I think a few bars might be nice too, and these might be just the ticket.
This was my first time making the ever-popular Hello Dolly bar, but they were an easy bar I decided to throw together for a somewhat last-minute Halloween party two weekends ago. I found the recipe in one of my mom’s collections, and I have no idea where it came from. To make it somewhat healthier, I opted to swap a few ingredients. Butterscotch chips were replaced with dried cherries and regular graham crackers were replaced with gluten-free grahams. I also cut a little bit of the butter out, it just seemed a bit excessive. I also used PLENTY of diced apples, more than I think the recipe called for.
2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
12-oz dark chocolate, chopped (you can also use dark chocolate morsels)
2 1/2 cups dried cherries
1 cup sweetened flake coconut
2 1/2 cups peeled and finely chopped Granny Smith apples (about 1 lb)
1 1/2 coarsely chopped pecans
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (we used Eagle Brand® which is GF)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Stir together graham cracker crumbs and butter, and press into a lightly greased 12-x9-inch pan (I greased with coconut oil). Layer with chocolate and the next 4 ingredients (in order of list) in prepared pan; drizzle with sweetened condensed milk.
- Bake at 350 F for 40-45 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour), slice into bars.
That sweetened condensed milk is no joke. I’m not a baker, so I don’t have tons of experience with it, but it sure goes a long way. I got worried about halfway through the can that there was a typo in the recipe. It really coated everything thoroughly.
My only mistake was not cooling them completely on the rack. We were in a hurry, and I literally pulled them out of the oven as we were backing out of the driveway. As a result, they didn’t stay together as much as I would have liked, but I think people enjoyed them anyway. Lesson learned. They are nice and sweet without being too rich, which are the types of desserts I make often because Neil and his family aren’t huge fans of sweets.
My goal is to eventually achieve a Paleo variation, and I think the key lies in finding the right substitute for the graham cracker. We’ll see. And for parting entertainment, here’s a photo of Matilda enjoying a leftover apple.