Tuesday, July 26, 2011

7 Layer Bars...deluxe style!

     So, once again I haven't posted that much this week.  However, unlike the last time this happened, this is NOT because I haven't been busy in the kitchen. Polar opposite, actually--I've been baking so much I'm about tired of it! (No, this could never really happen.)
     I've been going a little bit dessert crazy, you see.  On a whim last week I decided to make 7 layer bars for my boyfriend, who loves them dearly.  I made them, but was unsatisfied with the results--they were quite tasty, you see, but a little too sweet, a little too rich.  I chucked up the problem as being that I used a little too much sweetened condensed milk for the size of my batch, & didn't bake it long enough, so aforementioned milk didn't really dry up--it was still by and large present in a syrupy, sugary form.  So I decided to make a round two, with the correct recipe presented in the following post!
     However, also during this time, I have been in mad preparation for my mother's birthday, which is this Thursday.  I gave her the option for me to make her a cake, cheesecake (which, yes, I consider very different from "normal" cakes) or pie. She went with cake. I found too many recipes.  I decided to test 3, and, if they were all good, make her 3 mini cakes (with my new beloved absolutely adorable 4-inch cake pans from Hobby Lobby...heehee!) and she could have a tasty sample of each one.  I actually have only made one of those cakes, but tested out 3 different icings, and I have another one I want to try (but at the same time I really have kind of had my sweets fill for a while...) in the next two days. So, that's what you have to look forward to coming after this post.

     This post, however, is dedicated to a simple, so-easy-it's-ridiculous recipe that a child could probably throw together.

     7 Layer bars are named so not because they actually have 7 distinct layers, but moreso because they involve 7 ingredients: Graham cracker crumbs, butter, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, and sweetened condensed milk.  The proportions are always up to the maker, really.  However, after my first batch, I came up with my own proportions & subbed out certain ingredients for ones that I liked better...and therefore, I ended up with what you might call a 9 Layer Bar.  A very deluxe, yummy 9 layer bar.  With which I had a lot of issues of self restraint. And subsequently had to give some of the remainders to a friend to remove the temptation. Sigh.
     Anyway, essentially my biggest changes were using part graham cracker, part girl-scout brand shortbread cookies for the crust (although you can use any shortbread cookies you like!) and I dumped the butterscotch chips (too many=too sweet for me!), replacing them instead with Heath Bar bits that you can buy at the store. I also threw in pretzels for a nice salty crunch.
     Given how straightforward this is, no tips today folks--just indulge yourselves!

Deluxe 9 Layer Bars

1 stick unsalted butter
2.5 cups Graham Cracker & Girl Scout Shortbread Cookie crumbs (Roughly 18 of each cookie for me) (***See note below for crust)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup lightly crushed/broken pretzel bits (I used Snyder's butter squares or whatever they're called...look like little waffles!)
3/4-1 Cup heath bar bits
1/4-1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
8-10 oz sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk!)

**Crust note:  This amount is actually meant for a 9x13 inch dish, but I really like a thick, buttery crust to support all the toppings I put on rather than something thin and crumbly, so I didn't reduce it.  If you choose to spread it over that wide of an area, adjust your butter & crust baking time accordingly. Also, feel free to use just one type of cracker/cookie...I just liked the mixture!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Crush graham cracker/shortbread cookies into crumbs that fill 2.5 cups.  Melt butter in microwave and mix well with crumbs.
  3. Press crumb/butter mixture into the bottom of a 7x10 inch baking dish (I recommend pyrex/glass/ceramic, but I'm sure aluminum would work fine too) and pop in the oven for about 15 minutes.  (I realize this is a very odd sized dish, and you may not have one lying around, but the proportions will work just as well for an 8x8 dish, you'll just have to adjust/eyeball the baking times.) Crust should be a little tougher when it comes out, but still able to leave indentations.
  4. Mix remaining ingredients except milk in a large mixing bowl.  When crust is done, remove from oven and pour toppings over the dish, spreading evenly.
  5. Pour sweetened condensed milk on top of mixture--be sure to cover as much of the mixture as possible, but don't go to thick in any one area or you'll end up with a glob of sugary syrup that won't entirely bake away.
  6. Pop the entire thing back into the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until milk has bubbled and coconut flakes are lightly browned!
  7. GORGE!

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