I love Valentine’s Day desserts because most of them include chocolate: chocolate with raspberries, chocolate with strawberries, chocolate with more chocolate. Although berries and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations, I wanted something different this year. I made these red velvet seven layer bars a few weeks ago and they were such a big hit, I knew I had to share them in time for Valentine’s Day! Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of chocolate in these bars, but the pop of red from the red velvet base was too perfect for a red-themed holiday to resist.
In all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of red velvet anything. I’m a chocolate girl at heart and red velvet tends to be underwhelming to me. These bars are definitely an exception. They start off with a thick, cookie-like red velvet base. If you’re unfamiliar with the flavor of red velvet, it is mostly vanilla with a little hint of chocolate. The subtle chocolate flavor is usually what I don’t like about it, but in these bars, it’s the perfect match for all of the sweet, flavorful toppings. Speaking of toppings, these bars are loaded with chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, coconut and pecans along with sweetened condensed milk to keep everything together. As the bars bake, all of those delicious toppings melt together to make a decadent dessert.
Whether you need a dessert for just you and your sweetheart or something to share with a crowd, these red velvet seven layer bars are quick to make, delicious and worth every single bite! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Red Velvet Seven Layer Bars
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (225g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (12g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (225g) granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon (15ml) liquid red food coloring
1 and 1/3 cups (120g) sweetened shredded coconut*
1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (90g) white chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup (130g) chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl until combined.
In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy.
Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color.
Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Beat in the food coloring until combined.
With the mixer running on low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. The red velvet dough will be quite thick and sticky.
Using a rubber spatula, spread dough in an even layer into the prepared baking pan. It’s very sticky, so take your time pushing it to each corner of the pan.
Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave the oven on.
Sprinkle the coconut over the cookie layer, followed by the chocolate chips, then the white chocolate chips. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top. Sprinkle with pecans.
Bake until set and top is lightly golden brown, 25-28 minutes.*
Cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before cutting into squares.
1. I think this recipe would have been even better with toasted coconut. If you have the time, here’s how! Preheat oven to 325ºF. Place shredded or flaked coconut evenly on a large baking sheet that has been lined with a parchment paper.Bake on middle rack for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, gently stir the coconut with a spatula. Bake until the coconut is golden brown, about 3–4 more minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Coconut toasts quickly so make sure to pay attention to it!
2. It’s very difficult to tell when these bars are done. I added a range for the bake time because my bars were just barely done at 25 minutes. If your oven tends to bake slow, I’d recommend baking the bars for slightly longer.
In most places I’ve lived, October brings gold and red trees, crisp nights, cozy scarves and sweaters and lots of apples. Okinawa, on the other hand, is still in summer mode. The highs have dropped a mere two degrees and the “feels like” temperature is still well into the 100’s (122 degrees yesterday, to be exact). My social media accounts and favorite blogs are all abuzz about pumpkin spice this and fall everything else, making me homesick for anything to remind me that it is, indeed, fall. An overcast and rainy day plus an invitation to a get together with friends this past weekend gave me the perfect excuse to bake something to make it feel like the wonderful season it is.
There are a few short weeks in February when Colin and I debate about how many boxes of Girl Scout cookies is a reasonable amount to buy. Sadly, no matter how many boxes that ends up being, they never seem to last long enough. Hence why I’m writing about Girl Scout cookies in July. But, we don’t just argue about how many boxes to buy. We also disagree on which cookie is the best. My favorite has always been Thin Mints. Colin’s favorite are Samoas (or, where I sold Girl Scout cookies, Caramel Delights). I have not always liked Samoas. Actually, I remember avoiding them when I was younger. Most of that dislike came from my dislike of coconut. Now, coconut is a flavor that I am slowly starting to love. I don’t know if it’s because we live on a tropical island, or if it’s becoming more of a food trend, but it seems like everything comes in coconut flavor here. And, slowly but surely, I find myself ordering the coconut option more and more.
I love seeing the words “bring a dish to share” on an event invite. Some people may dread them, but I think it’s a perfect excuse to try out a new recipe or bake something I’ve been craving without having to eat all of it. I usually just want one serving, (two if I’m being honest) but not 30. Luckily, I seem to get invited to potluck style events all of the time, so I have a lot of opportunities to try new things. This week, thanks to my daily email from Tasting Table, I had been craving key lime pie. And, as luck would have it, I needed to bring something for a party at Colin’s office.
A few months ago, a coworker of mine requested I bring something with Nutella for a small get together we were having. Not wanting to pass up an excuse to bake, I willingly obliged. There was only one problem. I didn’t have many quick recipes in my repertoire that included this delicious hazelnut, chocolate spread.
It didn’t take much brainstorming for me to become fixated on the idea of Nutella cheesecake bars. I love changing anything from its primary form into a bar, like cookies, pies or cakes, because it’s so much faster. Usually, one type of batter gets dumped into a pan, bakes all at once in the oven and, once it’s done, you can cut it into as many individual servings as you need. It’s the perfect option for baking in a pinch, or in my case, after a long day at work.