This recipe for 7 Layer Bars is endlessly customizable, made easily with or without coconut, gluten free graham cracker crumbs, and even easily made dairy free!
Make Them Your Own
Okay, these are the easiest bars ever, and they are always a major hit everywhere you take them. They are relatively high on the allergen-unfriendly scale (dairy! nuts! coconut!), but I've got all kind of ideas for how to substitute different ingredients.
There are 3 elements to these bars that make them what they are (bad news?). How you choose to provide those elements is really up to you, though (best news).
To make 7 Layer Bars, you simply must have:
1. A crunchy cookie crust. You can use any sort of crushed up crunchy cookie you like—store-bought, homemade, less sweet, more sweet, chocolate, or vanilla. The sky's the limit. And you have to mix the cookies with some sort of butter or butter substitute. Again, scroll down for suggestions.
2. Pieces. The majority of the 7 layers are made up with pieces of chips, nuts, and coconut. If you don't like one sort of piece, substitute it with another. Love butterscotch? Use butterscotch chips. Hate coconut? Replace it with more chips. You get the idea.
3. Sweetened condensed milk. Yes, it has a ton of sugar. This is not a health-food-only blog! There are, like, 10 of you who are super mad at me for that, and you share your feelings often. If you hate sugar, then I'm afraid this isn't the blog for you.
If you are diabetic, I'm afraid I don't know of a sugar-free option for sweetened condensed milk, so this recipe is probably one you just can't have. ? But if you're just dairy-free, there are plenty of options. ?Again, scroll down!
Watch this 1 minute video to see how to make these 7 Layer Bars
Push play ▶️ and watch the video. Then try it yourself!
Ingredients and Substitutions
As always, please understand that I haven't tried any of these substitutions unless I specifically state otherwise. There are just my best-educated guesses about what would work in this recipe so that readers with other dietary restrictions can bake along:
Dairy-Free: This will take a bunch of substitutions, but they're pretty straightforward. Use a dairy-free crunchy cookie crumb (my gluten free graham crackers work great), and Earth Balance buttery sticks in place of the butter, gram for gram.
Then you can either use a store-bought canned sweetened condensed coconut milk (I've bought it before and it's quite good!), or my homemade sweetened condensed milk, the dairy-free version. Make sure your chocolate chips are dairy-free, and if you can't find dairy-free white chocolate chips, just use any other dairy-free chip you like in its place.
Nut-Free: In place of almonds, you can use more chocolate chips—or a different raw chopped nut if you can tolerate some nuts but not others. We just need pieces here that you can chew easily and hold their shape.
Coconut-Free: Use other nuts in place of coconut chips!
7 Layer Bars
1 1/2 cups (225 g) crunchy cookie crumbs (I used crushed gluten free graham crackers)
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus a few more for sprinkling
4 ounces white chocolate chips, plus a few more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups (120 g) coconut flakes/chips, plus some more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups (120 g) raw pecan pieces (or whole pecans, chopped)
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish, and set it aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, place the cookie crumbs and the melted butter, and mix to combine well. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and press it firmly into the bottom. On top of the cookie crust in even layers, add the semi-sweet chocolate chips, the white chocolate chips, the coconut, and the pecans. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top of the whole dish. Sprinkle the top evenly with a few more semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and/or coconut chips.
Place the baking dish in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the dish is a warm brown bubbling gooey mess. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan. If you try to remove it too soon, it won’t hold together. To make the bars easier to slice, chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once cool, grab the overhanging layers of parchment and remove the bars from the pan. With a wet knife, slice the bars into 12 equal squares. Serve at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator.