01 February 2012

Bake 52: 7 Layer Bars

Most of you have probably had 7 layer bars, in some form or other.  It's your basic graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate, butterscotch, white, peanut butter, toffee... chips of some kind or other, coconut, and possibly nuts.  They're super easy, super fast, and super good.  This week we tried the America's Test Kitchen version.

First, we process some chocolate-covered toffee bits (be sure they're chocolate-covered - this was a special note in the recipe), in the food processor.

Then add the graham crackers.  And then the melted butter... and process until well incorporated.

Add to the pan.  Pressing down with a measuring cup, again.  Love this tip.  The crust is then actually par-baked for 10 minutes, which was different... we always just layer the ingredients and then bake the whole thing.  But, we'll try it their way.

When the crust comes out of the oven, we sprinkled milk chocolate chips over top, and allowed them to sit until softened.

Then we spread them.  Mmm.

Then we added the rest of the layers... Rice Krispies (new for me in this recipe), pecans (I left this one out), more chocolate chips (semi-sweet this time) and toasted coconut, (pre-toasted coconut... also new for me in this recipe).

Then, and only then, TWO cans (yep, you heard right), of sweetened condensed milk were whisked together with some vanilla, and poured over the top of it all.

Then it baked, and cooled for at least 2 hours, (which was hard to make happen around here).  And finally we got to sample them.

Now, there's something that has to be said, and perhaps I should have opened with this, but I didn't, so here it is... my husband LOVES 7 layer bars.  It's possibly the one thing he really likes to make, and does so without a recipe.  So, needless to say, I was curious to see what he would think of these.  And... he really liked them.  He ate one, smiled, ate another one, and then asked me, "So, do you think they're better than mine?"  Which I honestly answered, "no".

They were good.  Really good.  I liked the crunchiness of the Krispies, and the toasted coconut was yummy.  The crust had a little extra flavor in it with the addition of the pulverized toffee chips.  Overall, great.  But I did have a few issues...

#1 Appearance:  In the original recipe the sweetened condensed milk is poured on top of the crust, and then the coconut, and whatever chip variety is then added, and pressed down a bit. The sweetened milk does bubble-up a bit between the toppings, but you still overall see the coconut and chip stuff.  They're pretty, and neat looking.  This version was not that way.  It looked a bit strange.  I thought/hoped maybe the milk would melt down between the layers, and some of the coconut/chip top would shine through - not so.  So, I'm not sure that I would dare take this version to a pot-luck.

#2  Oozing of sweetened condensed milk:  (Disclaimer:  this may have been my lack of skill in making these bars, and could possibly NOT be the fault of the recipe).  Once the bars were cooled, and I cut into them, if they weren't eaten right away, sweetened condensed milk started oozing out from the under the top layer of really cooked milk.  Perhaps I didn't cook them long enough?  Not sure.  I know they cooled long enough though, because these pictures were taken 2 days after making the bars, and you can see, there's still plenty of oozing going on here.

Okay.  I think it was just those two things.  And if you can get past that, which was actually REALLY easy to do, they these bars were a pure delight.  I think in the future I'll stick with the original version, but mostly because if Shawn is willing to throw together a pan by himself, why would I NOT go with that?!

Check out Jesse's blog for the full recipe.


Amanda said...

Okay, maybe there is something wrong with me but that oozing milk looks delicious! So the regular recipe doesn't have the milk on top? I want to try to not have it on top next time. I was with you, I thought it made them less pretty.

Jen said...

those looks so different from mine, I just used the one can but I thought the bars were dry! I was wondering too about layering them differently so the milk wasn't on top. Maybe I'll have to experiment. Great pictures, too!!

Jennifer O'Neal said...

Haha. . .that is so funny that your bars started oozing so long after you made them. If you have looked at mine the milk bubbled and skinned. So, your not alone in this. :)

Michelle said...

Those look SO yummy and I love your pictures of them stacked - it looks so good!