We’ve all tried to ignore it. As we make our way down a buffet line, heaping our plates with creamy macaroni and cheese, crisp cole slaw, and decadent brownies, we try not to make eye contact with that one dish. You know what I’m talking about. Maybe it’s a Jello concoction gone terribly wrong or some sort of cheese casserole (is that broccoli?) that sits untouched, but there is one at every potluck. You do your best to pretend not to see it or if your bold, you remark to the guy behind you: “Gosh, that looks delicious, but I just don’t have room on my plate.” In your mind, you’re thanking God that you didn’t bring that dish and then with a furtive glance down the table, you note with great satisfaction (and relief) that your tuna casserole is being eaten with gusto.
No one is immune from the politics of the potluck which is one of the reasons that figuring out what to bring is so stressful. I like to compare it to a cocktail party. Dress up your dish too much (for the record, anything with caviar is not acceptable at a potluck) and you can go ahead and assume that all those dirty glances and snarky comments are directed at you. Conversely, if you make macaroni and cheese (the potluck equivalent of the black dress) your dish will be eaten, but it also runs the risk of being compared to all the other macaroni and cheeses on the table. Tricky business, right?
Which is why I’ll be bringing 7-layer bars to the party this 4th of July weekend. The recipe is a classic. It screams nostalgia. Unpretentious, ridiculously sweet, and no fork required, it won’t last long on the table. Easily transported and quick to make, it’s clear that this recipe is a keeper. So quit worrying about that upcoming potluck and start enjoying the holiday. Happy 4th of July!
7-Layer Bars – Printer-Friendly Recipes
Adapted from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook by Julie Fisher Gunter
Makes 20 servings
If you do not let the bars cool before cutting them, the graham cracker crust will be very crumbly I found that refrigerating them overnight made cutting them much easier.
12 graham cracker sheets (4 small crackers in each sheet)
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1 cup butterscotch morsels
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Process the graham crackers in a food processor. Measure out 1½ cups of crumbs and set aside. Save any remaining crumbs for another baking project or discard.
Place the butter in a 2-quart baking dish and place the dish in the oven. Bake until the butter has melted.
Remove the dish from the oven and spread the graham cracker crumbs over the butter in the bottom of the baking dish. Add the toasted coconut. Add the butterscotch and semi-sweet chocolate morsels. Top with the chopped pecans. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over everything.
Bake for 33 minutes then remove from the oven and let cool. Cut into 1½ inch squares. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container for up to three days.