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.
My friends here in Oki know how much I love to bake cakes and cupcakes so, occasionally, I’ll get a special request for a birthday or other event. A good friend of mine had a birthday a few weeks ago and asked me to make her favorite kind of cake, German chocolate. Never one to say no to a baking adventure, I gladly started searching for the perfect recipe for her birthday. Through my research, I stumbled upon a little a little bit of a history worth mentioning. Interestingly enough, German chocolate cake is not from Germany, but named after an American, Samuel German, who created a dark baking chocolate for Baker’s Chocolate. The company named the chocolate bar after him and, later, a recipe was created using the specific chocolate bar, titled German’s Chocolate Cake. The apostrophe and “s” have since been dropped from the name, but the recipe remains an American favorite.
Colin and I frequently attend events that ask us to bring a dish to share. Most people probably dread this, but I love it because it gives me an excuse to bake something deliciously unhealthy, eat one serving and give the rest away. We had to go to one such event the other weekend so, naturally, I decided to bring cream cheese brownies and they turned out so good that I had to share them with you. The inspiration for the brownies came from my mom’s recipe, which, on my recipe card, is very accurately titled “Kim’s Best Brownies.” This is not her recipe, (don’t worry Mom, I’m not giving that away) rather my take on her delicious original.
I love cupcakes! That might sound odd coming from a dietitian, but it’s true (I mean, have you read the title of this blog?). It’s pretty much like having a personal cake, except with a higher frosting to cake ratio. And, if you’re like my husband, the more frosting, the better the cake is. That’s not the only reason to love cupcakes though. I think they are faster and easier to make than a cake. Each one is it’s own serving, so I can have a sweet treat without feeling overly full. Plus, the variations of cupcake flavors and frostings are endless, so it’s easy to customize for every person, event or holiday.
Most people have a go to banana bread recipe. That’s probably because most people have had overripe bananas sitting on their counter that they don’t want to go to waste. Our house is no different. I always have bananas in the fruit bowl to eat before my morning runs, grab on my way to work or throw into a smoothie. Plus, I know if I don’t use them in time, I can just put them in the freezer for banana “ice cream” or make banana bread. In my mind, it’s a win, win situation.
Every July brings the agonizing decision of what kind of cake to make for my birthday. I make cakes, cupcakes and cookies for friends here, so everyone was asking me if I was making my own cake this year. My answer? “Of course I am!” This is my one chance to make exactly what I want, instead of what everyone else wants. The problem is that there are so many options. One of my favorite things to do is read cake blogs and cookbooks. (What? That’s not normal?) I would love nothing more than to bake and eat every cake I read about, but I’m a dietitian and always have a nutrition tally running through my head. Plus, I don’t even want to know how many miles of running with Archie that would require. It’s way too hot here for that and even he doesn’t have that much energy.
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.
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.
The summer after my sister and I graduated from college, we found ourselves with a half-used bag of brown rice flour. Not wanting the flour to go to waste, or miss out on an opportunity to bake, we searched for a new recipe. We decided upon pumpkin granola bars, which I quickly fell in love with, or rather, with the concept of. I loved making my own granola bars. I could control the ingredients, they were always in the freezer for a mid-morning snack or quick breakfast at work and it gave me an excuse to bake every couple of weeks. I’m also in love with anything pumpkin, so pumpkin granola bars should have been perfect for me, but they weren’t. The recipe was loaded with sugar and oil and not much else. The bars were dry, but when I tried to add more moisture, they got gooey. My sister and I both tried to tweak the recipe, but after a few years and more changes than I can count, I still wasn’t satisfied.
One day, I had the brilliant idea to check Pinterest (duh!). At first, I just wanted to find similar recipes so I could continue to try to fix the one I was using. But then, I stumbled upon this particular recipe. It seemed too good to be true. Ground flaxseed. Almond milk. Chocolate chips! Pumpkin!!