Monday, December 26, 2011

Seven Layer Mess Bars

Despite the name, these are not a flop!  In fact, they're pretty darn good and a twist on the traditional seven layer bar.  Dave was very pleased with how they turned out, even though he's not sure he's ever had the original style seven layer bar.  I was happy to make something so yummy since the circumstances of how these bars came to be were a little, well, unconventional.

It was one of those days where I had a leftover bit of an ingredient that I had to use up or throw away.  Since wastefulness is not a trait in my kitchen, I knew I had to make something, but what?  And to top it off, the ingredient was something I rarely use in my kitchen: most of a can of sweetened condensed milk.  I'd used a scant 1/4 cup of the stuff to make the Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies I guest posted at Mom's Crazy Cooking, but what was I going to do with the rest of it.  Somewhere in my mind I vaguely recalled a recipe for some sort of bar that used sweetened condensed milk, so I pulled out the one cookbook flashing in my head--my nondescript Christmas Cookies book.  Lo and behold, I found a recipe that I thought being short by a 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk wouldn't be a big deal.

But wait.  I didn't have any graham crackers to make the crumb crust.  Oh, and I was out of nuts at the time, so there goes two of my seven layers.  Hmm.  I've got vanilla wafer cookies.  And pretzel sticks.  I could make this work.

And that's how the Seven Layer Mess Bars were born.  Apparently ingredients on hand, not necessity, is the mother of invention.  These are tasty, sweet and full of flavor.  I love the extra crunch from the pretzels and added sweetness from the vanilla wafer crumbs.  They were a little messy, hence the name Dave thought up, since the crust on the bottom didn't hold together securely.  Since the recipe calls for layering, not mixing, I resisted the urge to change anything, but it probably would have been a good idea to pat the crumbs into the melted butter a bit for layering the other ingredients.  If you're looking for a quick treat or to use up a variety of mix ins, this is the perfect recipe.  Be creative and use what you have on hand. I don't think there are any wrong answers.

Seven Layer Mess Bars


5 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup pretzel sticks, gently crushed
1 15 ounce can sweetened condensed milk (or close to it)

Place butter or margarine in an 8 x 8 inch square baking dish and bake at 325 degrees F until melted (about 15 minutes). 

Meanwhile, pulse vanilla wafers in food processor to make crumbs (or place in a zip top bag and bang on them with a mallet or rolling pin) and crush pretzel sticks with your hands in a medium bowl.

Remove pan from oven and gently roll melted butter around the pan to coat. 

Layer vanilla wafer crumbs in the pan and gently pat into the butter.

Layer coconut, then chocolate chips, then butterscotch chips, then pecans in pan on top of one another (do not stir).

Pour condensed milk evenly over the top of layers.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let pan cool and set on wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before cutting into bars.  Move bars to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 16 bars.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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