Sometimes, if you hang around the Serious Eats office late enough, weird things start to happen. Like the time Max and I, clocking overtime to meet a tight deadline, decided that making a 7-layer candy bar dip was a reasonable undertaking.
Why not? Given that the unofficial motto amongst editors here is "eat through the pain," the prospect of piling seven candies on top of each other, melting them down, then scooping up the goo with pretzels seemed more or less par for the course.
Like any proper recipe developers, we strategized. We needed candies that would not only melt well, but also taste good when melted together. In the interest of keeping a coherent flavor profile, we ruled out gummy candies in exchange for chocolate-based bars that exhibited various complimentary additions: nuts, caramel, nougat, and crunchy things (i.e., brittle and puffed rice). Decorative color would be reserved for the top layer only, as we feared it would otherwise get lost beneath the many layers of brown.
After a pit stop at legendary Lower East Side candy emporium Economy Candy to load up on bars, it was time to get cooking. And by "get cooking" I mean...pile a whole bunch of candy bars on top of each other, line the oven with foil in the event of overflow, and see what happens when you turn it up to 200°F.
In short, nothing disastrous! The oven did not explode, the pan did not runneth over, and the candies melted into each other with only a few tamps from the back of a fork. Plus, our whole kitchen smelled like warm, waxy chocolate, which I understand is a technique real estate agents use to sell houses. Overall: great success.
Keep scrolling to see how we put this candy monstrosity together every step of the way.
Ever notice how weird PayDays look unwrapped? Yeah, us neither.
As with most baking recipes, the first step is greasing your pan. It might seem excessive, but you'll thank us later.
Layer 1: Skor Bars
The first layer is Skor bars. We thought (correctly) that the filling of crisp butter toffee in the middle would provide a solid foundation for the layers of melted chocolate. Remember: strategy!
Layer 2: PayDays
The goal here was to get the peanuts to melt into the top layer of Skor chocolate and fuse with the bits of toffee below. I would say it sort of worked.
Layer 3: Oh Henry!
More peanuts, but this time with the added benefits of caramel and fudge, thus creating a delicious sticky peanutty toffee situation toward the bottom of the pan.
Layer 4: Crunch Bars
Time to lighten things up a bit...with a layer of Crunch bars! We hoped the puffed rice would create the sensation of airiness. Hope was lost, however, as the rice eventually sank into the layers below, but it still tasted good.
Layer 5: Snickers
We needed nougat and more caramel to bind everything together. Solution: Snickers.
Layer 6: Hershey's Bar
We wanted to create a smooth canvas for our penultimate layer, something that would allow our decorative toppings to adhere and really shine. That thing turned out to be a good-old fashioned Hershey's bar.
Layer 7: Toppings
Chocolate-dipped pretzels for crunch and salt, and peanut M&Ms for color and overall awesomeness.
As you can see, the volume of the dip exceeded its vessel. That's okay—the chocolate collapses in the oven but doesn't overflow.
One last glamour shot before this magnificent creature sets sail into the oven!
The wrapper wreckage of our creation.
As anticipated, most of the chocolate melted into itself fairly quickly, but to help the process along (and to avoid spillage), we tamped the dip down with the back of a fork after about 10 minutes. Some aluminum foil underneath was a handy precautionary measure.
The Finished Product
Et viola! It's certainly...something, don't you think?
Strike a Pose
Turn to the right...
...now dip! What, did you think we weren't going to actually eat this?
Jamie Digs In
'Cause we did. We definitely did. This is what it looks like.
Although the dip is delicious (and most dippable) when eaten warm, it can also be chilled in the fridge overnight to create a sliceable candy terrine, like so, which is the perfect way to show off your brilliantly strategized layering technique. Good luck!