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Feb 5, 2015

Magic Seven-Layer Bars

I love infographics almost as much as I love baking, so I was very excited to see this one created by Slate a few months back that answered the question, "If every state had an official dessert, what would it be?" I'm always interested in learning about new regional desserts, and this infographic made me aware of a few I'd never tried, including Seven Layer Bars, the proposed state dessert of Minnesota. According to Slate, the seven layers are "butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, walnuts, shredded coconut, and sweetened condensed milk." Intrigued by the combination of ingredients (not to mention the fact that butter itself is considered a layer), I decided to whip up a batch of my own. True to their name, they came together like magic, and tasted pretty incredible as well.

Magic Seven-Layer Bars


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
9 graham crackers (5 ounces), crushed
1 cup finely chopped nuts (Walnuts are traditional, but I used hazelnuts instead)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk


Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the pan with two overlapping pieces of foil or parchment paper, leaving overhang to act as handles for lifting the bars out of the pan. Spray with non-stick spray.

Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake until the outer flakes just begin to brown, about 4 minutes. (Keep a close eye on it - coconut can go from slightly browned to burnt in a matter of seconds.) Set aside.

Spread nuts out on the baking sheet and bake until just fragrant, about 4 minutes. Again, keep a close eye (and nose) on the oven. Set aside.

Melt the butter and combine with graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl. Toss with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed. Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.

In order, sprinkle the nuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut over the graham crumbs. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the entire dish.

Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife or bench cutter, cut into 2 by 3-inch bars.

Seven-Layer Bars are not a treat I grew up eating, so this may not be the most authentic recipe for them, but it IS a delicious recipe. It's also a great way to use up random baking ingredients you probably already have lying around. I definitely plan to make these again, soon!

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