Triple Layer Bars

After leaving New Orleans, and before moving to San Francisco, I lived back in Seattle for about a year. I got a job that, while being fairly forgettable, would lead to bigger and better things. It also allowed me to meet two people who would become life-long friends, and that’s definitely worthwhile. One other thing that job did, was to bring two great recipes into my repertoire. These came from office party potlucks – Chocolate Zucchini Bread (which I will feature my version of at Halloween) and these Triple Layer Bars from the lovely Robin, one of those life-long friends I just mentioned. (Thank you Robin!)

When I moved away, I made these bars often for friends but not since coming to the UK. That may be because you can’t get graham crackers here, chocolate chips come in smaller, more expensive packages and the peanut butter you find here is definitely sub-standard compared to the American stuff. It’s a very American recipe.

Fast forward to this past Monday when Hubby told me the ladies at work were throwing him a potluck ‘leaving do’ (he’s moving to another office within the same company). I went through my recipe book looking for something to make, preferably something that would be new to everyone at the party including Hubby. I knew he would love these, since he likes peanut butter, coconut… well everything in them. And since they came to me via office potlucks in the first place, it seemed the symmetry was predestined.

A few tips for UK (and hopefully other international) readers:

- My standard graham cracker substitute is the McVities digestive biscuit. I use that for any recipe that calls for grahams or a graham crust.
- Sweetened condensed milk (are there any better 3 words in the English language???) is just called condensed milk in the UK.
- Use any creamy/smooth style peanut butter (ie no peanut chunks). I discovered the quality is not really such an issue since there’s a relatively small quantity in this recipe.
- However, a good thing to know is that you can find big jars of Skippy at Costco UK and, incidentally, huge tubs of Belgian chocolate chips, which is what I used for this. But, of course, you could easily just melt down a bar of cooking chocolate instead.

I was a bit worried that these would prove too American for the English. So many sweet things thrown together, seemingly just for the heck of it. But the flavours do work really well together and the Brits are now asking for the recipe… although that could of course just be British politeness. Goes to show that, even with a British mom and nine years living in this country, I still haven’t quite got a grip on what makes them tick. That’s ok though. The fun is in the learning…

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (digestives work great if you’re not in the US)
7 oz (about 2 cups) flaked/shredded coconut
14 oz (395 g) sweetened condensed milk
12 oz (about 2 cups) dark (semi-sweet) chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.
2. In a rectangular oven-proof dish (about 9×13 inches – mine was smaller which made the bars taller) melt the butter in the oven.
3. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over the melted butter.
4. Top with coconut, spreading evenly, then pour on the sweetened condensed milk.
5. Bake 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
6. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips with peanut butter, stirring constantly until smooth.
7. Spread over coconut layer and smooth with spatula or knife.
8. Cool for about 30 minutes and then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (a couple of hours).
9. Carefully de-mold and cut into whatever shapes you choose. 2-inch squares work well, but diamonds, triangles or even circles would be nice too.