Six-Layer Butterscotch Dessert Crack

From Away guest contributor Kasey Ahlquist once brought a rack of these dessert bars to our annual “Labor Day Lobster Feed.” Everyone (including Kasey herself) had a bit of a laugh about their distinctly “1950s Betty Crocker” sensibility. But you know when I wasn’t laughing? When I was standing over the sink, licking the last crumbs off my fingers at 2 o’clock in the morning like a dope fiend. -Malcolm

Traditionally, these are called “7-Layer Bars,” but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what the seventh layer is supposed to be. Maybe when they first made an appearance on the dessert bar scene, they had some mysterious seventh layer. I like to think it was something “healthy” like raisins and that eventually, after years of taunting and snide remarks about their lack of diabetic coma -inducing abilities from the other ingredients, they jumped ship. No matter what, I have never known a seventh layer.

Of course, if I wanted to, I could add a seventh layer. The obvious choice would be some type of nut. My mother made these when I was growing up, and she used walnuts, but not marshmallows. Still a 6-layer bar. When I graduated from strictly ready-made baked goods to baking myself, I made them as she did: no mallows, add walnuts. I made them that way for years, until I brought them to a bonfire potluck and an adorable, unsuspecting tween with a nut allergy took a big bite and puffed up in a matter of minutes. The look on her face when she realized what was happening was enough for me to drop the nuts altogether.

Butterscotch Dessert Crack

Truth be told, I wasn’t that sad about the loss of the walnuts. I have never been a huge walnut fan. I have, however, always been a marshmallow fan, as well as a fan of all things mini. Enter the mini marshmallows. It was a dangerous, heavenly match. The marshmallows give the bars extra structure that was missing in the original recipe, while at the same time miraculously increasing the gooeyness factor.

Before you take a stab at this incredibly easy recipe, I feel I have a duty to issue a few warnings. These bars give “sweet” a whole new definition, a glorious new definition. If you can’t handle your sugar, don’t push your luck. In the same vein, maybe limit your kid’s consumption of these bars. Unless, of course, you enjoy watching your kids run in circles jabbering nonsense like Gary Busey. If that’s the case, load ‘em up!

If you have been known to eat an entire pan of brownies or batch of cookies, by yourself, be warned, this will happen with these bars, and then you will need to call a friend with access to insulin to come set you right. They are that good.

Lastly, if you plan on bringing these to a potluck or other function, be prepared to make them a million more times in your lifetime because everyone will be asking you to make them. If you’re still feeling pretty confident, go for it! You will not regret it.

Butterscotch Dessert Crack


6-Layer Butterscotch Dessert Crack



  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 10 tablespoons melted, salted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 10 ounce package miniature marshmallows
  • 1 11 ounce package dark chocolate chips
  • 1 11 ounce package butterscotch chips
  • 7 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a 13×9 inch baking dish, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter with a fork. If you are using unsalted butter, I would recommend adding a pinch of salt to this mixture. It helps cut the sweetness a little bit. Pack the graham cracker mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish.
  2. Pour the bag of marshmallows and both bags of chips over the graham layer. Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top. Sprinkle the coconut over the top.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the coconut start to brown slightly. Let cool completely before cutting. Store in the refrigerator.

Photos: Kasey Ahlquist


My love affair with food began on stepstools in the kitchens of the women in my family. Handing my great-grandmother carrots to grate for coleslaw, licking the beaters covered in my grandmother’s peanut butter frosting, and watching my mother cook up Italian dishes covered in cheese. To this day, I love cheese. Besides cheese, I love painting, ocean air, and the smell of tar after it’s rained. My husband Josh and I have created a little suburban farm with our Layla-Bug, a ridiculously hyper dog, and a one-eyed chicken. Someday, we hope to upgrade to a real country farm.


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