I think the name “congo bars” comes from the lineup of graham crackers, condensed milk, chocolate chips, and shredded coconut. This version doesn’t skimp on any of them and adds pecans to boot. These are a delicious after-soccer hit with kids, but if there’s a platter put in front of football-watching adults, they’ll be gone before halftime.
You can make the graham cracker crumbs in the food processor, or do it the old-fashioned way by putting whole crackers in a resealable plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.–Patricia Helding
LC Seven Layer Bars in Chic Clothing Note
You know how sometimes after remembering a childhood favorite fondly for years, if not decades, you set out to make the recipe…only to be wildly, wretchedly, devastatingly disappointed? That won’t happen with this recipe. It’s an ever-so-slightly gentrified, though still quite genuine, incarnation of seven layer bars, albeit with a funky name. Although we confess, in an aberration from tradition, we sort of like to chop chocolate bars into small chunks rather than rely on those little mass-produced rounded blobs that come in 12-ounce packages. But that’s just us. If nostalgia calls for blobs, by all means…
Congo Bars | 7 Layer Bar Recipe
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes, plus cooling | Makes 12 to 16 bars
- For the crust
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 whole crackers)
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
- For the topping
- 1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans or any other nut you fancy, if desired
- Make the crust
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter an 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch baking pan, dust with flour, and tap out the excess.
- 2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs and light brown sugar and mix well.
- 3. Work the butter into the crumb mixture with your hands until the crumbs are evenly coated with buttery goo. Spread the crumb crust in the prepared baking pan, pressing down gently with your hands. You don’t want to make the crust too dense or compact. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is slightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the topping. Oh, and leave the oven on.
- Make the topping and assemble the congo bars
- 4. While the crust is cooling, mix together the coconut, both chocolates, and the condensed milk. Add the pecans or other nuts, if desired. Spread the mixture evenly over the warm crust. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is set and light brown. Watch carefully toward the end of the baking time to make sure the top doesn’t become too bubbly or dark.
- 5. Let the pan of bars cool on a wire rack for 2 hours or so, until chocolate is no longer soft. Cut into whatever size or shape you fancy.
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Congo Bars | 7 Layer Bar Recipe © 2010 Patricia Helding. Photo © 2010 Alexandra Grablewski. All rights reserved.