I wasn’t sure what to title these because I know that there are so many different names for the same bars: magic bards, hello dolly bars, and seven layer bars. But more than name confusion, I didn’t even know if I should call them by their original name because at this point they are WAY more than that. In addition to the traditional chocolate, pecans, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk, I packed in here some peanuts, almond slivers, pretzels, white chocolate chips, and caramel. PLUS, I exchanged the graham crust for a gluten free almond-date base.
But the real star here is the sweetened condensed coconut milk.
As soon as I saw it in the little hippie food store, reveries of magic bars danced through my head. Those and vegan cherry o’ cream pie. Swiggety swooty, I’m comin’ for that booty next.
My sisters and I have always called them seven layer bars because that’s what they’re labeled as at 7-11, where we would each pitch in a little bit to buy one and share it on our way home from school as kids. They were the most decadent treats in our world, and somewhere along the line they became a kind of coveted communal event with one another. Whoever saved up enough money for one would buy it, and we would share them together. Yeah, we were pretty cute.
I remember once where for a three month period, I owed one of my sisters a slushy and a seven layer bar from 7-11, but I couldn’t remember for the life of me why I owed her, so I texted both sisters and we pieced together our bits of memory to create this:
I had coaxed my sister to tickle my back before bed by promising her a slushy and a seven layer bar (kids are weird), and every day when she got out of school she would look me up and down with sassy judgement because I had failed to pay my debt to her yet again. But one day I FINALLY had all my dough saved up, so on our way home from school I asked my mom to make a stop at 7-11, I proudly strode into the store and bought her favorite flavor of slushy along with a fresh seven layer bar, and I felt fly as shit when I hopped back into our minivan and paid her back. As soon as I handed it to her, I’m sure I said, “Can I maybe have a bite of that?” and she probably said yes, so despite our games of debt owing, everything was good in the sisterhood (get it?? I JUST made that up, and I’m damn proud).
Unsurprisingly, as soon as I finished this supa-packed vegan and gluten free version of our favorite treat, I texted my sisters first thing to reminisce about our good times and also to make them jealous that I was having them with caramel.
The good news is that you too can try this recipe out even if you don’t have an adorable childhood bonding story about seven layer bars!
Please do let me know what you think about them or if you thought of any other additions (maybe marshmallows?? I thought about them)
Peace and love,
- ♥ 1 1/2 cups almonds
- ♥ 1/2 cup coconut shreds
- ♥ 20-25 small dates
- ♥ 1/4 cup almond butter
- ♥ 1/4 cup maple syrup
- ♥ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ♥ Dash salt
- For rest of layers
- ♥ 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (check package to make sure they are dairy-free and gluten-free)
- ♥ 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (dairy-free and gluten-free)
- ♥ 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- ♥ 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- ♥ 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- ♥ 1/2 cup crushed pretzels
- ♥ 10 oz. can condensed coconut milk
- PREHEAT OVEN TO 350°F.
- Combine almonds and coconut shreds in food processor, and pulse until almonds are chopped finely.
- Add dates 5-10 at a time, pulsing until dates are completely combined before adding more, and keep adding until mixture sticks together when pinched between your fingers.
- Dump from the processor into a parchment-paper lined pan (I used a 9x9 dish), and press evenly to the bottom of the pan with your hands.
- Combine the almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl, and stir vigorously with a fork until a caramel is formed. If it is too thick, add more maple syrup. If too thin, add more almond butter.
- On top of the almond-date crust, sprinkle the chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, pecans, peanuts, almonds, and pretzels evenly across the top.
- Pour the sweetened condensed coconut milk over the bars, and drizzle the almond caramel over the milk (the almond caramel and condensed milk may meld together, and that's fine).
- Place into the oven for 30 minutes.
- Let cool on the stove for about 30 minutes, and then place in the fridge for two hours to settle completely before cutting into them.
- ♥ If you have larger dates, just start with 5 and gradually add 5 at a time until your mixture sticks together
I found some vegan and gluten free white chocolate chips over here.