These bar cookies have been a favorite in my family for generations (my Grandma called them “Hello Dollies”), but they are so much more than just “cookies”. They are “empty-your-pantry, suit-your-taste, won’t-last-one-day-in-your-house” bars! I gave you some suggested ingredients and proportions in my recipe below, but don’t hesitate to tailor these bars to what you have on hand and what you want in your mouth! Chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, pecans, coconut, oats – whatever you want to layer on these bars, just don’t forget the graham crackers and the sweetened condensed milk that seal the deal and hold these bars together. I’ve also provided you with a recipe to make your own dairy-free sweetened condensed milk below the cookie recipe (since I’m dairy-free, these bars are pictured with the homemade dairy-free milk version). It’s a handy substitution for many other recipes (like fudge!) as well, so be sure to print it for future use!
- 1/2 cup butter or non-dairy alternative (Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks)
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free graham crackers, crushed (Jules Gluten Free™ Graham Cracker Mix)
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup Jules Gluten Free™ Certified Gluten-Free Oats
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or a combination, dairy or non-dairy (Enjoy Life® dairy-free chips)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
- 14 oz sweetened, condensed milk, dairy or non-dairy* (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350° F (static); 325° F (convection).
Melt butter in a 9×13 pan, either on the cook-top, in the oven, or if in a glass pan, in the microwave. Pour the crumbs into the pan on top of the melted butter, but do not stir. Layer the remaining ingredients in the following order: coconut; oats; chocolate chips; nuts. Finally, pour the sweetened, condensed milk over the bars in a lattice pattern. Ultimately, this will fill in over the whole pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, just until the milk has turned a light brown color. Allow to cool before cutting bars.
*Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
Sweetened condensed milk is simply evaporated milk (approximately 60% concentrated milk) plus 1 1/2 times that amount of granulated sugar. I used Vance’s Foods DariFree™ Original Powder as the dairy-free base for this recipe.
- 1/2 cup DariFree™
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar (Wholesome Sweeteners® Evaporated Cane Juice Organic Sugar)
In a large saucepan, dissolve the DairiFree powder in the hot water. Once fully dissolved, stir in the sugar over medium heat and stir periodically until the sugar is fully dissolved and the milk has thickened quite a bit.
Allow the mixture to cool before using in your recipes; store unused mixture in a sealed container in the refrigerator for use in another recipe (use within a week).
*This recipe and over 149 more, also available in my new cookbook, Free for All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy!