Crimes, Misdemeanors and GF Big Fat Layer Bars

It wasn’t because she spent the years between two and three running naked through the neighborhood and giving our elderly neighbor a heart attack .  And it wasn’t that at the age of three, she disappeared for an entire afternoon learning about the art of making bird’s nest soup with a (stranger) neighbor while the rest of the neighborhood was searching for her.  And it wasn’t that she played her harmonica at the crack of dawn under the window of another elderly neighbor – or that she could use pick-up sticks to successfully pick locks.  It wasn’t even that she’d make long distance phone calls to strangers and call them mommy.

little con with lemon-loving grandpa

Nope. None of that quite yet cemented her reputation as a pee-wee con artist who happened to graduate from preschool with her own set of pick-up sticks lock picks.

It wasn’t until she was on a solo trip with her grandparents that we all realized just how creative and genius a con she was for a five-year -old.

At the Maine seashore, the lemon-loving in-laws didn’t heed our warning to watch for the special crinkle-twinkle in her eye when the little con-savant came alive.  Locating her mark, a family with the clearly better picnic (read: junk food galore) she followed that other grandpa into the ocean.  Before the elderly guy could blink, the child bobbed up from underwater, grabbed his hand and told him she was a very hungry girl, maybe even an orphan, and could she join their happy family picnic.

Her authentic lemon-loving grandpa fetched her back before the family could offer a cupcake or adoption papers.  Taking her for ice cream, he encouraged the child to order coconut.  Mid bite, he whispered in her ear that coconut ice cream was really onion ice cream made for little-girl con-artists.  Dropping it like a hot potato, she burst into tears, and to this day will not eat coconut anything.

Payback, lemon-loving style.

The savant emerged again in 3rd grade. The country school Principal and friend called to inform us the child had been fingered by the lunch monitor.

Apparently the child had been getting sympathy lunch goodies from assorted kids for a few weeks.  Some marks moms even packed extra to give to that “poor girl whose family had no food and lived in a house with a dirt floor”.  By now she was regularly filling up on gooey soft white bread sandwiches, Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, packaged cookies, and Jell-O pudding cups.

Stunned, the only response I could muster was a slightly stifled four letter word.  The amused Principal suggested Juvenile Hall where the child could make money teaching the art of the lunch con 101.

Instead, she faced the humiliation of having to write an apology note to each kid and mom who had sent extra food for the oh-so-poor-waif.  The lunch monitor watched her like a hawk.  When all the letters were signed, sealed and delivered we offered a reward.

We made 7-layer bars loaded with coconut.

Payback sucks.

She gets it now – the little girl is all grown up and a mom with two small boys.  And she still thinks coconut tastes like onion.

GF Big Fat Layer Bars

I’m not a fan of graham cracker crusts (another post one day).  GF Sable cookie dough is much tastier as a base layer.  For this Sable cookie bottom layer, I use Dorie Greenspan’s recipe and convert it to GF.

Here is a Dorie recipe that was published in the NYT.   I double the recipe (because why not) and cut  the dough into quarters.  Use one-quarter for the Big Fat Layer Bars and roll the others into logs, wrap and freeze for later on.

To convert the Sable recipe to GF you will want to do two things.  First, add one egg white to the mix – no matter how many yolks, add that one white to bind the dough.  And use somewhere in the range of 475 grams to 525 grams of GF flour in place of AP flour.

I tend toward the lower measure (you can always add more) and use a mix of GF flours.  For this mix, I would use these flours: 100 grams of GF oat flour, 150 grams potato starch, 95 grams of almond flour, and 130 grams of superfine brown rice flour.  For an idea of how much to use per cup for a variety of GF flours take a look at this chart at the bottom of the post.


  • 1/4 (doubled recipe) Sable cookie dough (room temperature)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup toasted (or roasted) whole almonds, hand chopped
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut (yeah, I know, but it works here)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Line an 8×8 pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray stuff or butter the inside (mostly the sides)

Press the Sable dough into the pan all the way to the edges – it will be a little greasy – but don’t miss any spots.  Make sure it is evenly distributed and pressed flat.

Pop the whole pan with the dough into the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Then pop into the preheated oven directly from the freezer and time it for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven – it will look way under-baked but should look like it is starting to bake.

Starting with the can of condensed milk, zig-zag it all over the warm dough until it reaches everywhere.  Use the entire can although it might seem like too much at the time.

Next sprinkle almost the full cup of chocolate chips over the condensed milk.  Set a tiny bit aside.  Do the same with all the coconut and add the white chocolate chips.  Finish up with the nuts and then add the remaining chocolate chips to the top for a festive finish.

Using your (clean) fingers, gently press the stuff into the condensed milk.  The milk won’t actually show but you will feel the stuff merge.  A little pat is all you need.

Bake about 35-40 minutes and start checking it at about 25 minutes.  It should look bubbly and toasty golden brown all the way to the center.  The edges when you finally take it out will be overdone, but the center will be perfect.

Cool in the pan for a long time.  Then lift it out by the foil edges and cool on a rack. Leave the foil on but try to peel it from the sides.  After it cools completely and if the foil is not coming off and being stubborn, pop the whole thing into the freezer for about 15 minutes.   It should peel easily after that.

Let it set on a cooling rack and then place on a cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, trim all four edges.  Eat those edges and swoon.  Think gooey, chewy coconut candy bar.

Cut the cookies into 9 giant or 16 small bars – your choice.

And be sure to share.


2 responses to “Crimes, Misdemeanors and GF Big Fat Layer Bars

  1. with a face like hers, how could you not want to hand her a twinkie! love the story… and the bars look heavenly.

  2. Beautiful! I had no idea you could make these bars gluten-free!

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