Grandma’s Hello Dolly Squares

Do you know what the hardest part is about not eating gluten or sugar?

IMG_5040Having to tell your Grandma that you can’t eat her baking.

I think my Grandma is who I got my love of baking from.  She has always made amazing meals and many of her staple dinners have been passed through my family.  For both of us, being in the kitchen is our happy place.   Cooking and baking for me is relaxing and enjoyable; I often joke that I “stress bake” to unwind after a busy week at school.

The thing I always loved about going to my grandparents were those special treats that you could only get from Grandma’s oven.  She always had a jar full of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, lemon squares, and of course, her famous Hello Dolly.  This is the ultimate dessert: graham cookie crumbs, with condensed milk, almonds, pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut all stacked in a delicious bar.

Well, I don’t think I need to tell you how hard it is to pass those up more than once.  This summer I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting and trying to recreate foods that I love – without processed sugar or gluten.  This particular recipe provided me with a bit of a challenge, mostly because the main binder- condensed milk- is essentially sugar milk.  Without it, I saw myself left with 2 options: buy enough coconut manna to sink a ship and my bank account, or work with evaporated milk.

Evaporated milk won out, and the dessert?  Pretty darn good, maybe even comparable to Grandma’s.

I got the crust recipe from Against All Grain, which I happened to stumble across as I was looking for a way to replace the traditional graham cracker crust in this recipe.  What a great crust recipe!  It’s so easy, tastes delicious, and stayed together well.IMG_5015

The white chocolate chips are still a bit of a process.  I followed the recipe from a wonderful blog called Chocolate Covered Katie, but used xylitol instead of the sugar.  It ended up separating from the cocoa butter in the fridge, but in this recipe all the tastes get mixed together anyway, so it worked!  I’m still on the lookout for a solid white chocolate recipe.

On another quick note, the crust needs to cool before you add all the fillings.  I made it in the evening and let it cool overnight.  Okay, let’s get to the recipe.

1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can evaporated milk
4 tbsp chia seedsIMG_5019
4 tbsp agave syrup or honey
1 cup unsweetened, grated coconut
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup pecans
1 cup sliced almonds


1.  For the crust, follow the recipe at Against All Grain, and let it cool before adding the filling

2.  In a small bowl, whisk the evaporated milk, agave syrup, and chia seeds and refrigerate for 20 minutes

3.  Add the coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips, topping with the sliced almonds

4.  Pour the milk mixture over top of the filling

5.  Freeze overnight

6.  Serve straight from the freezer -it softens quickly but is gooey and delicious then, too!IMG_5042

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