It’s that time of year again. Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Carnivale. For some people, “Paczki Day.”
I, for one, enjoy Mardi Gras. Who doesn’t like shiny beads and socially accepted overindulgence? Monks. But we just won’t tell them about it. Anyway, I enjoy the festivities. There is, however, one thing that has always somewhat baffled me about the way people celebrate Fat Tuesday here in southeast Michigan, at least.
Paczkis. The overwhelming obsession with paczkis. I mean…why?
Now don’t hate me. I know that already some of you are going, “Oh my god, you did not just say that,” and others are going, “You didn’t mean it; I forgive you,” and still others are going, “What the hell is a paczki? And how do you even pronounce it?” A paczki, pronounced here as puntj-ki, is a Polish pastry made of fried dough filled with jam.
Yeah. Fried dough filled with jam.
And if you don’t have paczki-mania in your neck of the woods, believe me when I say that here, people order them by the dozens. People wait in long lines for them. It’s like a mini Christmas. Stores send out special ads celebrating they fact that they now have boxes of fried dough filled with jam.
And I just don’t understand it. I mean, Mardi Gras is supposed to be the most decadent “holiday” ever–a day of unrivaled, sanctioned gluttony where you do everything you can to excess before Lent comes and you’ve given up sweets for 40 days. And with all of the hedonistic desserts in the world, how can I possibly get that excited over what is essentially a giant jelly donut?
(My Polish friends, particularly Emily, if they are reading this, are disowning me in their heads. Love you guys!)
So while I know that food blogger after food blogger will be sending you recipes for paczkis and beignets and donuts of every stripe, I on the other hand am going to give you a recipe for an easy dessert (because laziness is an indulgence) that is layer after layer of sinfully sweet nomnomnomings.
Sure, the paczki-defenders will say, “How can you get excited about layer bars? They’re just a cookie.” Of course they are. But they’re cookies with two layers of chocolate, nuts, coconut and a thick drizzle of vanilla caramel so good you will need to go to church when you’re done eating them. In fact, I like to think that these layer bars represent the seven deadly sins, all the better for a day of debauchery, where the seventh layer is “being awesome” and it’s invisible. Which makes that seventh sin, obviously, pride.
Now doesn’t that sound delicious?
Seven Layers of Awesome Bars
Makes 9. There’s a 7 of 9 joke in here somewhere.
9 Graham cracker sheets
2 tbsps butter
1 tbsp water
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup semisweet chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
15 caramels plus 1 tbsp water (or about a half cup of homemade vanilla caramel)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
Put graham cracker sheets, butter and water in a food processor and pulse until the sheets have been reduced to mere crumbs and are soft and soaked with the butter and water. Press crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the dark chocolate chips over the graham cracker crust, followed by the semisweet, then the coconut and almonds.
Put water in a small saucepan over medium heat and melt the caramels into it. Stir together until smooth. Drizzle over the top of the bars.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely, a couple of hours, and then use the parchment paper to lift the layers out of the pan and cut them into bars. Nom away.