By Janet Keeler
Coconut bars with a brownie layer on the bottom are treats that aren’t terribly sweet because the coconut in the mix is large unsweetened chips. You can nibble them like you would any bar cookie, or cut them a tad bigger and serve with a scoop of coconut ice cream.
Sometimes when I make cookies, I challenge myself to think of something or find a recipe for which I already have all the ingredients. It’s sort of like a reverse scavenger hunt. When I was ready to make cookies this week, going to the store felt more chore than joy. So, the search was on.
I found a Martha Stewart recipe for coconut bars with a brownie layer to adapt. Her recipe called for a bag of sweetened shredded coconut, which I did not have in my freezer or pantry. (Once I open a container of coconut I store the unused portion in the freezer. The oil in coconut can go rancid at room temperature.)
A plastic container of unsweetened coconut chips eyed me as I surveyed the freezer contents. Heck, why not? The sweetened stuff can be too sweet anyway, or at least that was my logic. Coconut chips look like they’ve been shaved from the fresh fruit and then dried. I love the look of them. I purchased the chips at a specialty market in the bulk foods section. If you can’t find them, go for sweetened. We are being resourceful today.
To amp up the tropical touch, I added coconut extract to the top layer of the these two-tone beauties.
Two tips to ensure the making of Brownie-Bottom Coconut Bars goes smoothly. Line the 9- by 9-inch baking dish with foil and leave enough around the edges so you can easily transfer the finished product to a cutting surface. Also, don’t event think of cutting the bars until it’s completely cooled. The time is needed to set the brownie later.
Excuse me while I go hunting for coconut ice cream. Surely, I have that in the freezer, too.
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
- 3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (1/2 cup reserves for sprinkling)
- For brownie base: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang. Spritz foil with vegetable spary.
- Place butter in a large microwave-safe bow and melt in microwave. Add sugar and salt then whisk to combine. Whisk in egg, then cocoa and flour until smooth. Spread batter in prepared pan.
- Bake just until sides begin to pull away from edges of pan, 10 to 15 minutes (do not overbake because the brownie layer will be baked more). Let cool slightly while preparing coconut topping. Keep oven on for topping.
- For coconut topping: In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with sugar and vanilla. Gently mix in flour and coconut (except ½ cup reserved for sprinkling).
- Drop mounds of mixture over chocolate base; spread and pat in gently and evenly with moistened fingers of coat hands with vegetable spray. Sprinkle with reserved ½ cup coconut.
- Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Check at 20 minutes. If coconut is brown enough, cover with foil.
- Cool in pan. Lift cake from pan, peel off foil, and cut into bars.