Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Seven-Layer Bars, Minus a Layer

So, apparently Seven-Layer Bars, or Hello Dolly Bars, are a staple of everyone's childhood except mine. I don't think my childhood was deficient in other ways (although my parents were very strict about movies), but I'm not sure I'd ever had one of these until I made them last night.

I used Deb's recipe (at smittenkitchen) as a starting point, but I made some variations. Deb and my husband both said that they were really sweet -- almost too sweet -- and I'm not a big fan of butterscotch to begin with, so I used peanut butter chips instead of butterscotch. Okay, I put a few butterscotch chips in there, too, but I swear I could taste every one of them and won't be doing that again. Also, I don't like coconut, so I left that out, too. I figured that would also help them not be cloyingly sweet.

I'm pretty pleased with the outcome -- they are still quite sweet, but I think they stayed just this side of too sweet. They're still pretty rich, so even I can't eat more than about 2 bars in one sitting -- but they smell so good that it's easy to forget that no, you really can't eat another bite.

They're also dead simple to make, and it's such a quick recipe that I can see myself making this again and again -- and probably playing with it a little every time. Maybe adding peanut butter instead of just chips, or -- ooh! -- Nutella and hazelnuts! Mmm. And maybe adding some caramel sauce. I think this recipe has a lot of room to play!

Seven Six-Layer Bars
(adapted from

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter
1 packet graham crackers, crushed into crumbs in a food processor or smashed in a zip-top bag
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup peanut butter chips (probably a little more than 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup butterscotch chips (probably a little less, actually)
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 8x8 pan with aluminum foil (the no-stick foil came in really handy here).

2. Melt the butter. Mix it with the graham cracker crumbs and press the mixture into the bottom of the lined pan.

3. Layer the chocolate chips, pecans, peanut butter chips, and butterscotch chips on top of the graham cracker crust. Pat it out to the edges of the pan.

4. Pour the condensed milk over the whole mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is light brown.

You should let it cool before you cut it -- it will make the cutting easier and neater -- but I had promised baked goods to the people I play pub trivia with, so the whole thing came with me, still hot. We let it cool some before cutting into it. It was messy but so good still warm!


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