Kelly Fields says that what she grew up calling "Seven-Layer Bars" are also known as Magic Bars or Hello, Dolly Bars. As I read through the recipe, I was wondering why the name Kitchen Sink Bars wasn't also on the list, because the bars seem to include a bit of everything: condensed milk; caramelized white chocolate; popcorn; dark chocolate; peanuts; Heath bars; and sweetened coconut -- all on a graham crust.
The method for the crust is a little unusual, in that it's not just graham cracker crumbs mixed with butter and pressed into a pan. In fact, even though it's called a "coconut-graham crust," it doesn't include any graham crackers. You make a crumb-like mixture by combining flour, powdered sugar, brown sugar, coconut (I used unsweetened shreds), baking soda, salt, cinnamon, honey, and melted butter; spread it on a baking sheet and bake it until dry and golden; let it cool; and grind it in a food processor. Then you take those crumbs, combine them with melted butter, and press the mixture into the bottom of a parchment-lined pan.
I cooled the bars and chilled them before cutting. The bars were rich, sweet, chewy, and very decadent. I thought the popcorn seemed a bit out of place, and not just because its stark white color immediately jumped out. Plain, unsalted popcorn just doesn't have nearly as much flavor as sweetened coconut, salted peanuts, dark chocolate, or Heath Bars. I would have strongly preferred if it was caramel popcorn to begin with, or if the popcorn had been covered by the condensed milk topping. And while I liked the crust, I can't say with certainty that it was any better than a crust you might make with store-bought graham crackers.
Eating one of these bars gave me the same sensation I get from eating a candy bar -- I might not be able to tell exactly what's in it, but it tastes good and feels like a guilty pleasure. If you are in the mood for a candy-like treat, you might find these bars to be magical.
Recipe: "Seven-Layer Bars" from The Good Book of Southern Baking by Kelly Fields.