Telegraph Bars {Lunchroom Bars, O’Henry Bars, and possibly my favorite, Gackle Bars}

By now there is probably little question of why Crazy is part of my blog title. And if there is, this post is sure to clear things up a little. Many of you may already know that my husband doesn’t really have a sweet tooth. There are a few simple treats that he enjoys, rice krispie treats, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, Oreos, and Caramel Chex Mix. Oh and cheesecake,  how could I forget cheesecake? He’s really not big on cake, brownies, or pie. And he doesn’t think nuts and chocolate mix which I will never understand. Every year around this time (we just celebrated his Birthday) I struggle finding the perfect dessert to make for him. He used to talk about these dessert bars that he enjoyed as a child – they were made by the lunch ladies from his school cafeteria. I had him describe them for me and couldn’t find any recipes that sounded close to his description. He was from a small, like 500 people small, town in North Dakota called Gackle. I thought maybe his Grandma Eva, would be able to point me in the right direction. She gave me some good hints, but her suggestions included raisins, and as strong as he feels about nuts and chocolate never mixing, he feels even stronger about raisins. Period. What did I do? I called the school. I totally called my husband’s elementary school. I talked with one of the lunch ladies who said she wasn’t around back then and didn’t really know what I was talking about but would leave a message for one of the older ladies who might know. I felt old. So old, it wasn’t that long ago! And crazy, I mean who calls their husband’s grade school cafeteria?!? But I waited a day or two and called back. She was there, she remembered my husband, she knew which recipe I was describing, and she had the recipe for me. They called them Telegraph Bars, but my father-in-law calls them O’Henry Bars. I think of them as Lunchroom Bars, and my kids, and the ladies at my husband’s office call them Gackle Bars. Anyways, I was super excited! The only problem was that the recipe made a gigantic batch of cookies – you know enough to feed a cafeteria of kids in one of those super-sized cafeteria cookie sheets. I worked with the recipe and sized it down to a Texas sheet cake pan (17-1/2″ x 12-1/2″ x 1″ deep) and made them as a surprise for his birthday. He was so surprised and thrilled at how they turned out. And yes, he thought I was certifiably loony when he found at that I actually called his school. We get a laugh about that every time I make them for him. Now I’ve even got it down to a jelly roll pan size (10 1/2″ x 15 1/2″ x 1″ deep), which is about perfect because it’s not very often we need that many of them. Are you wondering what in the world this treat is like? It’s sort of like a frosted sandwich cookie bar with a gooey caramely center squished between graham crackers and topped with a chocolate frosting glaze. Might not sound like what you might choose for your birthday celebration (I usually picture a giant layered chocolate cake), but they are fun for after school treats and days when you want an easy treat, or not to actually have to bake something in the oven. But if it is something you want for your birthday treat, be my guest. 

Telegraph Bars
Cookie Layer {For Jelly Roll Pan Size (10 1/2" x 15 1/2" x 1" deep)}
  1. 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  2. 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter
  3. 1 1/4 cup milk
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1 1/4 cups crushed graham crackers
  6. whole graham crackers, enough to line the bottom and cover the top (all in all, about one box of graham crackers)
Chocolate Glaze Topping
  1. 1 (12 oz.) pkg chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
  2. 1/2 butterscotch OR peanut butter chips, or just use chocolate if preferred
  3. 10 Tablespoons butter
  1. Line jelly roll pan with whole graham crackers. You may have to break them into pieces around one edge. Set aside. Melt the brown sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla together in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add crushed graham crackers, continuing to cook and stir until mixed thoroughly and thickened. Pour over graham crackers and spread evenly. Top with graham crackers. Melt 2 1/2 cups of chips with 10 Tablespoons of butter by placing it in the microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring in between each. When smooth and creamy, pour over the top graham crackers. Pour from side to side, while you move down the bars to help in spreading the chocolate mixture evenly. Use the back of a spoon or a knife to finish spreading chocolate topping. Place in refrigerator until set. Cut into bars. Keep in refrigerator. Enjoy!
  1. If you are in a hurry or prefer to keep things simple, you can frost with your favorite chocolate frosting instead of making a homemade glaze.
Adapted from Gackle Streeter School
Adapted from Gackle Streeter School
Jasey's Crazy Daisy
Do you have a favorite treat from your childhood?
How far would you go to track down a special recipe?

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