This holiday cookie recipe is a staple in our house and something my brothers and I look forward to ALL YEAR. I begged Madre to share the recipe for the blog and was so pumped when she said yes and also came over to teach me how to make them… because that means the holiday Grammie party started early this year!
Guys. I’m so excited for today’s post because this Christmas cookie bar creations are a special holiday treat that we all love. It’s really the holidays when you go over to Madre’s house and she has an entire tray of grammies. When we lived in Georgia and San Diego, it was so excited to open a package that was filled with tamales and Grammies. It officially meant Christmas was here.
What is a grammie?
A chocolate-y coconutty graham cracker creation. They’re almost like 7-layer bars but the texture is so much better. The top is crispy and almost caramelized and the bottom ingredients all blend together into almost a graham cracker brownie. It’s hard to explain, but just trust me that these are the best ever.
The original recipe is from my Uncle Bill, who was one of the coolest people I’ve ever known. He passed the recipe onto my Madre and she’s been the Grammie train conductor ever since.
I love the idea of recipe videos but don’t think all recipes warrant a video demonstration. (Like Sharon, I don’t need to see you put Rolos on a bunch of pretzels and dance around pretending to “wait” while they melt in the oven. Didn’t need to waste that 60 seconds of my life.) But I might eventually make a video for this one because of the techniques and steps.
But, I promise if read the directions thoroughly, you can do it! And it’s so so worth it.
When Madre first dictated the recipe to me over the phone, I was laughing hysterically and took three pages of notes.
I wish I could have recorded it to share with you all. (“If you use the wrong brands, the little f-ckers won’t turn out.”)
Some important notes:
– This is a two-day recipe. You make the recipe one night and cut it the next day. If you try to speed up the process, they will turn to mush. You have to wait for them to harden slightly overnight.
– You stir the batter with two chopsticks held together. Not even joking. My madre’s love of chopsticks is so amazing. She uses them for everything. If you’re like me and have no chopsticks in this house, it becomes a three-step process.
1) Go eat some delicious Asian food so you can take some chopsticks home:
(We had sushi at Sachiko)
2) cook the grammies, let them set overnight, and then
3) cut them the next morning.
If you use a Kitchen Aid or spoon to stir these, it will break up the graham crackers too much and they’ll be cake instead of bars.
– The brands matter. Madre is super specific about the brands she uses. We’ve had multiple people in the family try to make these using different brands and they don’t turn out the same. I had to buy another brand of coconut for this post because Basha’s only had one, and felt super stressed about it. The bars turned out perfectly, but the texture of the coconut was different.
Here are the brands to buy:
– Nestle milk chocolate chips (one bag)
– Honey Maid graham crackers (one box)
– Eagle sweetened condensed milk (two cans)
– Baker’s sweetened coconut flakes (one bag)
– Diamond walnuts (1 1/2 cups)
– Mexican vanilla extract (it has a different taste than regular vanilla extract. You can get this in the international section of many grocery stores or on Amazon here)
– Cinnamon and nutmeg (ok you can use whatever you have in the house for this one)
– You can’t double the recipe and mix in the same bowl. If you double the recipe, each batch needs to be mixed separately.
– You have to cook them a bit longer than you’d think. The top layer needs to be browned, so if there are patches of white, let it keep cooking. Otherwise the coconut will fall off.
(Eat one out of the corner if you’re impatient like yours truly)
– Score the grammies with a sharp knife after cooking, cover lightly (so air can still get through), and cut the following morning. You can cut into large pieces to start and then cut each piece in half. These are better a little larger than bite-size so you can have a hundred (pro tip).
Here’s the full recipe!
- - Nestle milk chocolate chips (one bag)
- - Honey Maid graham crackers (one box- 3 sleeves full)
- - Eagle sweetened condensed milk (two cans)
- - Baker’s sweetened coconut flakes (one bag)
- - one egg
- - Diamond walnuts (1 1/2 cups)
- - Mexican vanilla extract (it has a different taste than regular vanilla extract. You can get this in the international section of many grocery stores or on Amazon)
- - Cinnamon and nutmeg (ok you can use whatever you have in the house for this one)
- Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
- Break the graham crackers in the package over a large mixing bowl. The pieces should be about the size of a penny. Don't let them get too small. Pour all the graham crackers into the bowl.
- Pulse the walnuts in a small food processor and add about 1 1/2 cups to the bowl.
- Sprinkle the mixture with cinnamon and less nutmeg. (My guess is 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
- Make a hole in the mixture and add the egg and almost the entire can of condensed milk. Stir gently using two chopsticks held together or the bottom of a spoon. Don't use a stand mixer or spoon because it breaks up the pieces too much.
- Add the entire bag of chocolate chips and stir well, using the chopsticks.
- See how the mixture feels. You want it to be moist and seem like it will hold together, like a dough. Add more condensed milk as needed.
- Pour the mixture into the pan and gently press down, using your hands.
- Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 and bake, covered, for about 30 minutes. The mixture should be a uniform golden brown color.
- Remove from the oven and uncover. Drizzle condensed milk on top of the graham mixture so the coconut will stick to it.
- Add the bag of coconut, and using a spoon, drizzle more condensed milk in a crisscross pattern. You want the drizzle to be light but the entire mixture to be almost covered with the condensed milk.
- Put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Watch it closely to make sure ALL of the top layer is browned and crispy but not burnt.
- Remove from the oven and score the pieces, using a sharp knife.
- Cover very loosely with foil and allow to set overnight.
- Cut into pieces the next morning.
- If you want to double the recipe, do this in separate bowls. You can't mix the double batch in one bowl or they won't turn out.
- Don't substitute anything. It's not worth it! haha
- These freeze beautifully in a sealed bag! You can also store covered for about 5 days, if they last that long.
Please let me know if you give it a try!!
What’s something that instantly tells you the holidays are here? Any favorite treats you look forward to all year?