Hello Dolly Squares

“These are not State-of-Mainish in any way,” wrote Marjorie Standish in Cooking Down East, 1969, “except just about everyone in Maine makes them.” Back the ‘60s, when I was busy being an awkward teenager, the whole darn country was apparently making these. And humming along with Carol Channing in the Broadway musical. Is that why they are called Hello Dolly Squares? Maybe. They are also called Magic Squares and there is a version with seven ingredients called Seven Layer Squares.

I bumped into these while working on a compilation of Marjorie Standish recipes which appeared in print this spring. While Mrs. Standish included lots of truly traditional Maine recipes in her columns and books, this one is a thoroughly Modern Millie recipe. Icky-sticky tooth-achingly sweet and an absolute snap to put together. Plus you can memorize this recipe easily because it is one cup of everything except butter which is one stick. It leaves you with a part of a can of sweetened condensed milk which you can use in your coffee or tea if you like milk and sugar added.

You can dial back some of the sweetness by using unsweetened coconut flakes and semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate. Mrs. Standish said to cut them into “very small squares,” good advice because a little goes a long way.

Now, on Friday this week, at Rooster Brother in Ellsworth, you will find me and the book of Marge’s recipes I mentioned above entitled Cooking Maine Style. I hope you can make time to stop by and say hello. I’ll be there between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 along with something from the book for you to taste. Maybe blueberry cake or how about Hello Dolly Squares?

Hello Dolly Squares
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup graham crumbs
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate bits
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  1. Heat an oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in a 9-by-9-inch pan.
  3. Sprinkle in the graham crackers and mix them around a bit until the butter has soaked into the crumbs.
  4. Then sprinkle on coconut, unmelted chocolate bits and nuts., making sure you have ingredients in each corner.
  5. Pour condensed milk on top.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Cool in pan and cut in very small squares.



Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.