A Hijacked Holiday Cookie Recipe: Hello Dollies
If all of your family – your mama and them, back and back and back for generations – are from south Louisiana, you’ve probably got your own well-used version of this cookbook somewhere in your kitchen:
It’s my go-to “I can’t remember how to make this classic Louisiana dish because I haven’t made it in so long” resource, second only to calling up my mama. Sometimes, even she says, “Did you check Talk About Good?”
There is one recipe in there that became a family holiday cult classic:
THE HELLO DOLLY
Think gooey, chocolatey, nutty goodness on top of a buttery graham cracker crust.
I’m not sure when my family first started making this cookie bar, but I know that I was put in charge of making them for a Christmas open house for my mom’s gift shop when I was in middle school. Except that the original recipe calls for pecans (which I don’t love) and shaved coconut (which I hate because who loves the texture of clipped fingernails????).
And that, my friends, was when I first hijacked this holiday cookie recipe. I substituted sliced almonds for the pecans and eliminated the dreaded coconut, and it was then and there that I realized that this recipe is so versatile that it could be adapted for whatever your little tastebuds desire.
I promise this won’t be one of those recipe posts where you have to read through a small novella before you get to the recipe, so I’ll be brief. For a while, my sister took over the cookie duties before I butted in and re-hijacked the recipe. And then one year, her kids asked me to make the dollies because mine were better. But don’t tell her that 🤫. My secret? MORE. OF. EVERYTHING. If a little is good, a lot is GREAT.
So without further ado, here you go. Grab ya sheet pans because a 9×12 ain’t gonna cut it, TRUST ME. My recipe is a very typical cajun recipe in the way that there is no recipe, only ingredients and a basic feeling of what will taste good.
What you will need (with absolutely no measurements provided – just get a lot. Let your spirit guide you):
- graham cracker crumbs
- unsalted butter
- chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet)
- nuts (My preference here is slivered almonds)
- sweetened condensed milk
The only thing that I actually follow a recipe for is the graham cracker crust. I’ve tried them ALL. I am the Goldilocks of graham cracker crusts- they are all either too wet or too dry or too crumbly or too buttery, but this one is THE recipe- it is JUST right:
For an entire sheet pan, I usually triple this recipe, but it makes just a bit too much. Use the extra for a small batch of dollies JUST for you.
The rest of MY recipe goes a little like this:
Once you’ve FIRMLY pressed the crust, cover it with milk chocolate chips. And when I say cover, I mean that you should not see even a hint of crust. Liberally sprinkle the top with slivered or sliced almonds. Every single bite should have a generous nut-to-chocolate ratio. Smother (and I do not say that lightly) it all in sweetened condensed milk. It should fill every single divot and hole. If you think that you’ve put enough, put more. TRUST ME.
Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees (I mean, I’m not sure I ever saw any other temperature used in Talk About Good) until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
You’re going to want to cut these while they are still warm but not fresh out of the oven; otherwise, you’ll need to muscle through the crispy caramelized edges. These keep beautifully for a few days if covered, but make sure you sneak a warm one just for yourself for a job well done!
Keep this hijacked holiday cookie recipe: Hello Dollies somewhere close for safekeeping!