Great Gatsby’s Ghost! I just realized I have not posted anything sweet on here since LAST AUGUST! That’s crazy! I have certainly made sweet things, and I have most definitely eaten sweet things, but apparently, I showed them no love here. I’m aghast. That changes today.
I made Hello Mollys and I actually made them incorrectly, though it appears that no one but me was the wiser. Hello Mollys are better known as Seven-Layer bars, Congo Bars or Hello Dolly Bars, but they happen to be the specialty of one of my favorite relations, whose name happens to be Molly, and as a result, in our family, these are called Hello Mollys. She makes them at Christmastime, so I always think of them as a Christmas treat, but that is actually not the case at all. There is nothing seasonal about them, and even if there is, I made them a couple weeks ago (I know! Why can’t I stay on top of this?!?) and everybody at work loved them in spite of the time of year. When I made these, I promptly sent an e-mail to Molly telling her I had done so, and I had followed her recipe, and that I liked hers better. I think I have since figured out why that was the case…
If you look these up on the webs, there are definitely some variations, but there are more similarities than differences. The name Seven-Layer Bars comes from the cookies having –you guessed it – seven layers. Each of the layers is an ingredient, so I suppose they could also be called Seven-Ingredient Bars. I don’t know where the name Congo Bars or Hello Dolly Bars came from. Irrelevant to the discussion at hand… The layers/ingredients are: butter, graham cracker, chocolate chips, walnuts, coconut, condensed milk and almonds. Is that seven? Yep! That’s it. That’s what you need. You might even already have all that stuff in your kitchen! The recipe is super easy to remember too, since all the amounts, except for the butter, are the same (though you can feel free to play with them and adjust proportions to your liking.)
It goes something like this – melt a stick of butter in a 9×13 baking pan (this is where I went wrong, I am not sure exactly what size mine was, but it was bigger, and I didn’t have a 9×13 – I have remedied that situation.) Once the butter has melted and you’ve swirled it around the pan, you add 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs and spread it around to make an even layer. Then add two cups of chocolate chips and spread it around to make an even layer. Then add two cups of lightly chopped walnuts, and spread them around to make an even layer. Then add two cups of shredded coconut and spread it around to make an even layer. Then it gets crazy! (and also, this is the other place I went wrong.) Open two cans of sweetened condensed milk and pour it over the top. Last but not least, sprinkle two cups of sliced almonds over the top, spread around to make an even layer, and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. When I made them, I sprinkled the almonds on first and THEN poured the condensed milk over, so they got coated too and got kind of shellacked on to the cookies. When Molly does it, the almonds stay flaky on the top and some of them end up falling off and they so they are not quite as almond-y or something. I don’t know, I just know I like hers better…I am not a huge nut fan, so that might be why. As I mentioned, no one at work thought that anything was amiss, so they work either way. I want to make these again, but I want to sub in some butterscotch chips for some of the chocolate, and I want to use salted peanuts instead of walnuts. And I would also like to perhaps sub in fancier chocolate instead of just regular chocolate chips, and then use pistachios? I don’t know about that one, but I’d be tempted to try it. Probably in a smaller pan since that would mean a lot of pistachios, and they are ‘spensive.
So there you go, if you have a potluck coming up, or you feel like bringing something when you go to someone’s house, or you just feel like making yourself a delightful treat, these truly couldn’t be easier. And so quick! You have to leave in 45 minutes? No worries! Make some Hello Mollys and slice ‘em when you get where you’re going. Just don’t burn yourself on the walk or ride over there. Wear your oven mitts. (But don’t leave them behind, because then you won’t have them anymore.)
Phew! Something sweet! Balance has been restored…now on to more pressing matters.
1. The Olsen twins: Am I supposed to be able to tell them apart? Please advise.
2. I had to have an emergency root canal on Monday afternoon. I sort of suspected I might, when I spent all of Sunday trying to figure out if I could mainline Advil, or if I had any connections to unsavory characters that specialize in pills. I was really hungry that night so I made myself an egg and not very toasted toast, hoping it would be soft enough to get down my gullet without causing pain, but a wayward crumb crept over to the left side of my mouth, resulting in 20 minutes of tears until the feeling that someone was pounding nails into my tooth roots subsided. Monday afternoon in the dentist chair also saw 20 minutes of tears when I realized that the last root canal I had was under the blissful influence of Valium, and this one was going to have to be Valium free, and also, did you know how expensive root canals are when you’ve already used most of your dental benefits this year getting a beautiful shiny crown that is also about to be defaced? I felt really sorry for the dentist, who had never met me, because he had to deal with a grown-ass stranger lady falling apart in his chair on a Monday afternoon when he probably thought he’d get to go home early. And then, apparently, it was a really difficult tooth to deal with. Sorry guy. I am afraid of dental work and I have difficult teeth. I am not proud of either.
3. Have I told you about the Honey Badgers? I don’t think I have, and that makes me remiss. The HBs are a group of fantastic, hilarious, loyal, gorgeous ladies that I am lucky enough to keep company with. The name Honey Badgers does not, in fact, come from creepy coyotes, but from this. (Gram, don’t even bother, you won’t enjoy that…) HBs 4 dash eva.
4. I read a lot of blogs and websites and there are a couple in particular I’d like to share with you…Gifts that Give is a blog by my friend Meg with fantastic daily ideas about gifts that give back. She has excellent taste and I want pretty much everything on there. The Hairpin makes me laugh every single day. Tastespotting is inspirational. Gilt Taste is just trouble. That is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m not gonna lie, I love the internet.
5. I also read a lot of more traditional reading material like books and magazines. (Do books on Kindle count as traditional?) Right now I am reading “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson. It is great. Erik Larson is really good. He also wrote “The Devil in the White City” which I could not recommend more highly. He writes non-fiction in the most enjoyable, readable way imaginable, and he writes about major events with a focus on one or two players, and the books are great. I also read The New Yorker on my Kindle, and I am very excited for my upcoming vacation, so I can catch up on the back issues that I have gotten half way through that are still languishing on there waiting to be finished. A couple of issues of Vanity Fair will also be accompanying me to the North Carolina shores in a week and a half. I hope no one in my extended family is hoping to like chat with me or anything while I am there.
6. I will be on vacation in about 10 days with 46 other people. That is not a typo. There will 46 walking around humans in two large houses on the beach. 46 of my favorite humans in existence. I CAN NOT WAIT.
7. Bruins. Game 7. Up by one. Nervous. Also, I love the name Peverley. I could say it all the time. I want it to be my name. I wonder if he’s single? (Related: playoff beards are G-R-O-S-S. Not a fan.) UPDATE: 2-0, I’m less nervous.
Hello Mollys (makes 18-24 cookies)
1 stick butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups lightly chopped walnuts
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 cups sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in the baking pan (you can do this on top of the stove, but even easier to stick the pan and the butter in the oven as it heats up.) When the butter is melted, swirl the pan around so it coats the entire bottom as evenly as possible. Add the graham cracker crumbs to the pan and spread over the bottom in an even layer. Add the chocolate chips to the pan and spread them in an even layer. Do the same with the walnuts and then the coconut. Pour the cans of condensed milk evenly over the layers, and top with the sliced almonds. Bake for 30 mins. Cool, cut into bars and enjoy!