Growing up, the only seven layer food I knew about was bean dip. And that was only because of my last year of Camporee.
Around when I started middle school, my mom began a Girl Scout troop for four of my friends and me. We were a little tired of the tea parties and overzealous cookie sales of our original troop, and we wanted to focus on adventurous, outdoorsy activities like rock climbing and kayaking instead.
When spring arrived, we excitedly planned out the highlight of our year: Camporee. We outlined packing lists, campfire songs, and the minivan seating chart. Growing up in a camping-obsessed family (we went at least twice each summer!), I figured we’d grill burgers and dogs for dinner that first night, but…
My best friend’s mom didn’t trust the cleanliness of the campground fire pits. (She considered staying at a motel “camping” and actually sent us up with packets of travel-sized toilet seat covers.) To make sure we didn’t starve, she bought ginormous bags of tortilla chips and two humongous platters of seven layer bean dip, along with chocolate chip cookies and tootsie rolls for dessert.
So for most of my life, I thought that bean dip was the only seven layer dish out there… Until I met Trish and Dorothy — and then sat mesmerized at my computer screen every time they posted a seven layer bar (aka magic bar!) recipe.
All of their chocolate and coconut treats looked oh so gooey and irresistible, so I finally caved and made my own version: these Healthier Chocolate Caramel Seven Layer Bars!
WHAT ARE SEVEN LAYER BARS?
If you’re like I was and am still stuck on layer of refried beans and cheese, let’s go over the anatomy of traditional seven layer bars. (They’re also called “magic bars!”) You’ve got…
♡ graham crackers
♡ shredded coconut
♡ chocolate chips
♡ sweetened condensed milk
…all layered in a pan and baked until they reach melty, gooey, finger-licking perfection. Truly decadent and basically irresistible!
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHIER SEVEN LAYER BARS
With that out of the way… Let’s go over how to make these healthier seven layer bars! To lighten up the traditional version, I used a few simple swaps.
Egg whites for butter. Melted butter holds together the graham cracker crust in the original version, but since I’ve already used egg whites in cheesecake crusts (which are essentially the same thing!), I did that here as well. It cut out a whole lot of calories… And added in some protein too!
Caramel for butterscotch. This was mainly because of my personal flavor preferences. Something about sweet, buttery caramel is so irresistible! But it also shaves off a few more calories while adding that oh-so-addictive gooeyness. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to butterscotch!
Greek yogurt and Truvia. Instead of using pure sweetened condensed milk, I swapped in Greek yogurt and Truvia for half of it. The final drizzle was still creamy and sweet — and nobody noticed the difference!
Tip: If you’re not a fan of Truvia (or don’t have it on hand!), many other no-calorie sweeteners will also work. See the Notes section for some of my other recommendations!
These three swaps resulted in bars with substantially fewer calories, less sugar, and less fat compared to the originals. (See the Nutrition Information for these healthier seven layer bars for more details!)
The last benefit of my version? It only makes half a pan — not a full-sized 9×13″ one! With how dangerously addictive these bars proved to be (one of those “wake up in the middle of the night and sneak into the kitchen when no one is looking” treats!) that made it much easier on my lack of willpower…
And so did giving some of them away to neighbors and friends. Sharing is caring, right??
PS The best part? There’s another version of these seven layer bars in my cookbook! 😉
Then when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amys.healthy.baking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthier seven layer bars!
Healthier Chocolate Caramel Seven Layer Bars
- 10 sheets (155g) chocolate graham crackers
- 3 large egg whites
- 6 tbsp (30g) reduced fat shredded unsweetened coconut
- ¼ cup (56g) miniature chocolate chips
- ¼ cup (30g) finely chopped pecans
- 4 caramel squares, diced (I used these)
- 4 oz (113g) fat-free sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup (60g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp (13g) Truvia
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat a 9”-square pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Break the graham crackers into pieces, and add to a food processor or blender. Pulse until they resemble fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, and add the egg whites. Mix together until fully incorporated. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle the coconut, chocolate chips, pecans, and diced caramel squares over the graham cracker crust in that order. In a small bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, Greek yogurt, and Truvia. Drizzled over the top.
- Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes. Cool completely to room temperature, and allow the bars to set once they reach room temperature for at least 3 hours before slicing into squares.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Fudgy Caramel Brownies
♡ Caramel Apple Cookies
♡ Caramel Pretzel Bites
♡ Peanut Butter Banana Seven Layer Bars
♡ Clean Eating Seven Layer Bars
♡ Extra Fudgy Oreo Brownies
♡ Almond Joy Oatmeal Cookies
♡ Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy dessert bar recipes!