Tuesday, July 24, 2012

seven layer bars.


I remember my first seven layer bar. It was probably the height of my thumb and the whole medley of chocolate, coconut, nuts and I-dunno-what-else broke off from their rigid structure into bits and crumbs the moment I took an unglamorous bite. I have no idea how something so simple could be just so darn amazing.

The marked difference between that bar and these is the fact that these are more gooey and the layers have little desire to separate from each other, thanks to extra condensed milk. Double the amount, in fact. It is hence imperative that I ask you to exercise caution when baking these bars- not just referring to self-restrain or risk skyrocketing calorie intakes, but also because condensed milk is already very stubbornly sticky in its unbaked form, and even more so after a trip in the oven. You must line your pan with sufficient foil (I wouldn't recommend parchment because it turns soggy easily), enough to extend way above the height of the bars so that the condensed milk does not spill over and into the bottom of the pan. It would be a pain to remove the foil if that happens. Trust me, I know.


Seven Layer Bars
loosely adapted from America's Test Kitchen
makes a 9 x 5 inch pan's worth (12 modest bars or 8 larger squares)

Although I planned to follow the original recipe, I lacked a few ingredients which resulted in quite a change. For one, I didn't have any chocolate-coated toffee bits, the inclusion of responsible for making the crust uniquely buttery and salty. I also didn't have sweetened shredded coconut on hand. I swapped half the chocolate chips for white chocolate ones just for fun. I retained the element of the rice krispies though. Frankly, that was the component that got me interested in this version of seven layer bars so how could I leave it out?

1/2 cup digestives graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp + 2 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
2 ounces chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup rice krispies
1/4 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
2 tbsp milk chocolate chips
2 tbsp white chocolate chips
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 a 14-ounce can of condensed milk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter in a bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom of a foil-lined 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until browned and fragrant. Leave the oven on.

After removing the hot crust from the oven, layer on the 2 ounces of chopped chocolate onto it. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to melt slowly and then spread it evenly over the surface. Sprinkle over the rice krispies, toasted pecans, milk and white chocolate chips and desiccated coconut in this order. Pack everything down tightly with the back of a spoon.

In a bowl, whisk together the condensed milk and vanilla. Pour this over the bars. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until the top is browned. Let the bars cool completely before cutting. I recommend that you refrigerate them until firm before doing so. Or you could speed things up by using the freezer.

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