This post sharing gluten free 7 layer bars was sponsored by Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.
There are some things you grow up eating that you make so often you don’t need to consult a recipe. The first recipe like this for me was chocolate chip cookies – and yes, I can still recreate it with exact measurements even though I make other desserts more often now. The second recipe I memorized from sheer repetition was magic cookie bars (or seven layer bars or dream bars or whatever you happen to call them). They’re so easy and so quick to make, and I still make them often for parties or school functions.
Of course, me being me, I changed some things around from the original recipe to better suit my tastes. Chocolate chips? Nope, three kinds of chocolate chips and more of them. Pecans? Walnuts? Nope. I prefer cashews in mine. I’ve even played with the crust a bunch finding different bases instead of “just” plain graham crackers. That’s actually how these gluten free 7 layer bars came about.
Our school provides hospitality at the elementary and middle schools for teachers and PTO meetings several times a year. When I chaired the hospitality committee years ago, I had a couple teachers mention that they were vegetarian. Their gratitude when I simply ensured they had vegetarian options available at dinner astounded me.
Not surprisingly, staff members now have additional dietary restrictions, including some who are gluten free. With Little Miss having allergies of her own and not being able to participate so often in treats and goodies shared by others, I quickly started making desserts and other items that were gluten free. Those mocha meringues and raspberry meringues? They make perfect gluten free and dairy free dessert options.
When I received these boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate that are gluten free – though you’d never know from tasting them! – I knew I had to come up with a fun dessert incorporating them. Honey Bunches of Oats has always been “dedicated to delicious” and their new chocolate variety has that same great texture everyone in my house loves. With this flavor, I had to hide the boxes until I could bake these gluten free 7 layer bars!
I immediately remembered the dessert I had to make for our teachers, and these gluten free 7 layer bars were born. Ok, initially I planned to make macaroons for our teachers with a recipe provided by Honey Bunches of Oats. But as I pulled the coconut from my pantry, inspiration struck, and I went in a whole new direction. I’m pretty glad I did!
I never knew or really thought about it, but Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate is a yummy option for those who avoid eating gluten. Add them as a binder in a recipe, and they help create great gluten free baked options. Overall, making gluten free 7 layer bars is easy, and it’s definitely a recipe you can make with kids as long as you do a little supervising.
How to Make Gluten Free 7 Layer Bars
Make the crust
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once you turn it on, add the stick of butter to your 9×13 pan and place it in the oven to melt.
As soon as the butter is most of the way melted, remove it from the oven and let the residual heat melt the butter. It took under five minutes for us, just enough time to get everything else prepped and ready to go.
While the butter is melting, chop your nuts. Then open your can of sweetened condensed milk and pulverize the cereal to finish your prep work. To end up with 1 1/2 cups of cereal crumbs, I started with about 2 1/2 cups of Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate. While you could definitely put it in a zip top bag and crush it with a rolling pin or by hand, I took the easy way out and added the cereal to my food processor.
After pulsing 20 times, I got crumbs to Goldilocks size – not too big and not too small. They need to be small enough to absorb the butter and create a crust while not being true crumbs that have no texture remaining.
Pour the cereal over the butter in the pan and press into the butter.
If you find that you have areas of more or less butter distribution, you can stir it a bit then press it back into a flat layer.
Assemble the gluten free 7 layer bars
Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk over the cereal layer. Now I know the official recipe doesn’t have this step in this order. I do. I like it better when poured over the cereal base rather than over the chocolate. It helps the cereal create a stronger base. If you’re a traditionalist making gluten free 7 layer bars, feel free to pour the sweetened condensed milk over the chocolate. Either way, move the can so it covers the entire pan fairly evenly. You cannot spread this out once it is in the pan.
Add your chopped nuts. Again, I prefer the taste of cashews in this to pecans or walnuts. I like the crunch of toasted cashews, but if you have a nut allergy, feel free to swap them out for another nut or leave them out entirely.
Distribute this layer evenly across the pan.
Top with the butterscotch chips and your chocolate chips. I use a mix of milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and semi sweet chocolate chips to give it additional flavor. If you have just one type of chocolate to add to your gluten free 7 layer bars, that’s fine.
Lastly, sprinkle the flaked coconut over the chocolate.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until the coconut is a golden brown and toasted. Remove from the pan and let cool completely. Before cutting, use an offset spatula to ensure the sides are not sticking to your pan. Gently slide it around the edges of your gluten free 7 layer bars. Slice and serve immediately or store in a tightly sealed container for up to a week.
You’d never believe these gluten free 7 layer bars were, well, gluten free. I tested it out on several friends, and everyone loved them. Fortunately, I still have a few left to share for the middle school teacher conferences. Or I can whip up another batch in a snap!
These gluten free 7 layer bars have amazing flavor and are quick and easy to make. A great twist on your classic magic bars, dream bars, seven layer cookies - or whatever you call them at home!
- 1/2 c unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 c Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate (pulverized to 1 1/2 c crumbs)
- 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 c toasted cashews, chopped
- 3/4 c butterscotch chips
- 1 1/4 c chocolate chips*
- 1 1/4 c flaked coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add butter to 9x13 pan and place in oven for 5 minutes while preheating.
- While butter melts, chop nuts and set aside. Add cereal to zip top bag and crush or add to food processor and pulse 20 times to get small chunks but not crumbs. Open sweetened condensed milk and set aside.
- Once butter is melted, remove from oven and pour cereal over butter in an even layer. Press cereal into butter to make crust.
- Pour sweetened condensed milk over crust layer evenly.
- Add nuts over top, then butterscotch and chocolate chips. Sprinkle with coconut.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until coconut is toasted and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting.
- Serve immediately or store in tightly sealed container for up to a week.
*Use a mixture of chocolate for additional flavor. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolate make for an even better tasting gluten free 7 layer bar.
Have you ever had gluten free 7 layer bars? What is your favorite gluten free dessert?
Disclaimer: While Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate complies with FDA Gluten Free labeling requirements, it is not manufactured in a dedicated facility. All ingredients, ingredient suppliers and production lines are thoroughly tested at multiple levels of production and evaluated to assure there is no risk of cross-contact contamination. As gluten intolerances and sensitivities vary from person to person, we encourage you to use your best discretion when choosing foods safe for you. Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate aims to provide a delicious cereal for all members of the family to enjoy, including those with gluten sensitivities or allergies. Enjoy!