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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Easing into it with Seven Layer Bars (Holiday Baking, Part One)

As I said in my last post, I like to give home made cookies as gifts during the holiday season. I feel it is a very personalized kind of gift to give. It takes a little bit of thought (ok, I admit, I do work on my list of cookies to bake for probably longer than I should, but I'm a list freak. You'd think with my love of lists that I'd be more organized, ah well) and the end product tends to be appreciated by everyone. I give quite a few cookies to the people on my gift list so that they can share them, because that's what the holidays are all about, aren't they? Sharing.

These cookies are my way of kick-starting my holiday bake-off. They are easy. They are very good, almost more of a candy than a cookie. I'm sure most of you have seen them, and many of you have probably made them. Seven layer bars are just that. Seven layers of goodness baked to a nice chewy golden brown and sliced into whatever shape you like (I prefer little triangles or squares). These are very much a part of my holiday baking.

Seven Layer Bars (yields one 9x13" pan)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter (I do always use unsalted butter in all my baking)
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (or graham cracker crumbs)
1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet are my favorite)
1 cup butterscotch chips (I've never tried peanut butter chips in these, but they might be yummy)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans, as I always seem to do. Walnuts or any other nut would work well)
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (I do used the bags of sweetened coconut, I'm sure you could use unsweetened also, and if you do use unsweetened coconut, let me know how it is!)
1 1/2 cans (the 14 ounce cans) sweetened condensed milk (I know many recipes for this just call for one can, and you can do that. I just like the little bit of extra moisture the added 1/2 can gives these)
-Preheat oven to 325f. Spray one 9x13" pan with pan spray and line it with parchement paper coming up the sides (This just makes it very easy to lift the bars out of the pan once they are cool)
-Melt the stick of butter in the bottom of the prepared pan (I do this on really low heat on the stovetop, you can also melt the butter in the microwave and pour it into the pan to avoid hot pan).
-Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the melted butter. You may want to get in there with your clean fingers and mix these together to form the crust. Then press the crust evenly over the bottom.
-Sprinkle in chocolate chips, then the butterscotch chips
-Sprinkle (that is my word for the day I think) the nuts over the chips.
-Cast the coconut ( ya didn't I? You thought I was going to say "sprinkle") over the top of the nuts, chips, and graham cracker.
-Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the entire pan.
-Bake for about 40 minutes or so. I check every 15 minutes to see if the pan needs to be rotated (the back of my oven runs hotter than the front), I also start the pan out in the middle of the oven, and move it to an upper rack during the last ten minutes or so because I like the top of these to be nicely caramelized. Yum.
-Cool in the pans on racks until the bars are just warm. Lift the bars from the pan and continue to cool on the racks.
-You can cut these once they are cool if you like. These bars do freeze well and I use this to my advantage. I just cut the entire batch of bars in half, put a layer of parchement between the halves and freeze them like this in a gallon sized freezer bag until the time has come for me to package all my cookies for shipping. When I need them, I pull them out, cut them frozen and pack them up. Very easy.

Happy Holiday Baking, stay tuned for more cookies and candy in the next few weeks...

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cybercasey said...

These sound too mouth watering...certainly would love to try them out during the holidays...and i've also posted a little something on the holiday fun and cheer at my Holiday Blog so visit it sometime and enjoy all that's there...have a great time during the holidays!!!

Jen the bread freak said...

Cybercasey, they are so good and so rich that one is usually enough for me! But they last long and ship well also which makes them ideal for me for gifts for friends and family (especially as most of them are on the other side of the country or across the atlantic!). Thank you for stopping by, and have a wonderful holiday also! Now to go check out your Holiday Blog :)

Cinara said...

This bar looks so yummy, Jen! Here in Brazil we love sweets with coconut and chocolate, so this recipe will be a hit around here! Thanks for sharing...

Jen the bread freak said...

Glad you like the look of them! They are so easy and wonderful. Thank you :D