Monday, February 1, 2010

Congo Bars

It's hard to be a guest at a party, much less the guest of honor... at least for me it is! Although I knew I wasn't required to bring anything to the baby shower my friends put together for me, I didn't have the heart to attend empty-handed. I was already in a baking mood so I whipped these Congo Bars to take to my first baby shower.

I've had my eye on this recipe for awhile so that I had an excuse to use up some leftover coconut and white chocolate chips I had in my cupboard. If I were to describe these bars, it would be what you'd get if you crossed a blondie and a seven-layer bar. The texture is just like a blondie with the flavors of a seven layer bar. The combination of white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used bittersweet chocolate chips), toasted walnuts and toasted coconuts was delicious. I'm almost regretting not taking some home after the baby shower because I'm craving them now - lol.

Congo Bars
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 cup walnuts, toasted & chopped coarse
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons table salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate chips
3 oz white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and adjust oven rack to the middle position

In a dry saute pan over medium heat, toast the walnuts (about 7-10 minutes) until fragrant then place in a bowl to cool. If you're using whole walnuts, be sure to chop coarsely.

In the same dry saute pan over medium heat, toast the coconut until lightly browned (about 7-10 minutes) and add to the bowl of nuts to cool.

While nuts and coconut cool, line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil with enough to hang over the edges to lift the congo bars out of the pan later. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, whisk melted butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Using rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix.

Fold in the chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven until top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes; do not overbake. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.