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Two weekends ago, Melinda and Amelia came over for a dessert baking party. Wine was opened, chocolate was melted and these bars were inhaled. I’m not exaggerating. Melinda wouldn’t even wait for them to set! The pan of Trail Mix Seven layer bars was passed around between all of us on the couch (including two of my roommates) and we ate them directly from the pan.

With our hands.

I wish I was kidding.

I wish we could say we were stoned to at least excuse our behavior but nope! They were just delicious and that’s the only excuse we had!

I woke up the next morning to find a tiny little corner piece was all that remained. The five of us ate almost the whole pan! Clearly, a photograph was not taken and even if it was, I don’t think any of us want us unceremoniously shoving trail mix bars into our faces with our hands to be available on the internet!

Either way, I was forced to make them again for you so I could actually get a picture.

Trail Mix Seven Layer Bars
inspired by Vegan Baking

Crust:

  • 9 cinnamon graham crackers (one packet in Honey Graham Set)*
  • 5 TBSP of coconut oil, melted
  • 1 TBSP + 1tsp water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup apple juice infused dried cherries (or regular dried cherries)
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 cup condensed milk (recipe here. I used Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk this time)

Prepare the condensed milk ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.

Put the graham crackers in a large ziploc baggy and crush until the graham cracker are roughly the texture of sand. (You can use a food processor but honestly, why lug it out and then have to wash the whole darn thing when crushing them works just as easily??).  Add coconut oil, water and salt to  your crushed graham crackers, seal up the bag and mush it all around until everything is well incorporated.

Dump the graham cracker crumbs into your 8×8 pan. Spread evenly. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press down on the crumbs until they are tightly packed together.

Cover the graham crackers with the toppings. Pour the condensed milk over the toppings.

Bake for 35 minutes.  Once removed from the oven, allow to cool completely before cutting into it. I would recommend putting it in the fridge overnight. If you don’t let it cool, it will just be a crumbly mess of ingredients. I mean, it will still be delicious! But it won’t hold together in bar form. Trust me…the crumbly mess is what we ate the first go around because we were impatient.

*I know graham crackers often have honey in them. I could not find honey-less graham crackers when I was at Whole Foods but I don’t have an issue with honey so I went ahead and used them. Also, the Honey Graham brand and Whole Food’s 365 brand had mostly the same ingredients. If you are looking for a honey-less, more all-natural version, I would recommend trying to make these and swap out the honey for agave syrup or maple syrup. These have been on my ‘to-make’ list forever but this recipe wasn’t the time to try it.

The idea for these came about because my cafetaria at work always has seven layer bars and they are sooo good. and sooo not vegan. This was my vegan version. It’s a little heartier with all the fruit and nuts. The great thing about these is, like trail mix, you can customize it to your liking. You could swap out the cherries for raisin (eww, please don’t) or dried blueberries. You could swap out the almonds and pecans for different types of nuts. And you could use any time of non-dairy milk for the condensed milk.

Now seriously, go make these. And maybe have a fork ready so you don’t end up eating them with your hands. Though…I hear all the cool kids are doing that…just sayin’.

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