Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Chocolate & Coconut Bars

 As soon as this month's We Should Cocoa challenge was announced I knew that I wanted to make a layered coconut bar - a chocolate biscuit base with a topping that was mostly coconut. A cake version of a Bounty Bar, perhaps, one of my favourite chocolate bar treats!

I didn't think it would be difficult to find a recipe, but repeated searches, using various combinations of key words, didn't find anything which seemed quite right. These Black-Bottom Coconut Bars, from Martha Stewart, were close but the brownie base looked a bit too rich for me, although I have bookmarked the recipe as a possibility for the future.

The only answer seemed to be to combine two existing recipes, and I turned to my current favourite book (1001 Cupcakes, Cookies and Other Tempting Treats by Susanna Tee) for inspiration. I soon found a simple biscuit base that could be made into a chocolate version by substituting cocoa for some of the flour. The topping was an adaptation of a recipe called Coconut Paradise Slices, although I varied the ingredients to include chocolate. Instead of just using glacé cherries and sultanas, I used a mix of dried apricots, glacé cherries and chopped plain chocolate. I thought apricots paired better with chocolate than sultanas, but left some cherries as they compliment coconut so well.

Although both recipes were designed for a 9" square tin, I used one which was 8" square, so the layers were slightly deeper. The biscuit layer came out lovely and crisp, but I think it might have been a little too fragile if made in a larger tin. Here's my recipe adaptations to make Chocolate and Coconut Bars:

Base layer - Rub 80g butter into 175g  plain flour, then stir in 40g of light muscovado sugar and 25g cocoa. Sprinkle these crumbs evenly into a parchment-lined 8" square baking tin, press down firmly and bake at 190C for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 180C.

Topping layer - cream 100g butter and 200g caster sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in two large eggs, then stir in 200g desiccated coconut, 75g halved glacé cherries, 75g dried apricots (chopped into pieces about the same size as the cherry halves, and 75g coarsely chopped plain chocolate. Spread this over the biscuit base, and bake for another 30 minutes until the coconut mixture is set and golden brown on top. Cool thoroughly before cutting into bars. I made 12 bars, but cutting into 15 pieces would still have given bars of a good size.

These bars were perfect (and it's not often I say that!). The top layer had a chewy macaroon-like texture and the intense coconut flavour was just what I wanted. The added chocolate and fruit gave just the right balance of flavours and the crisp biscuit base finished the whole thing off with a good contrast of textures. I wouldn't change a thing!

We Should Cocoa (rules here) is the brainchild of Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog. She alternates hosting duties with guest hosts, and this month it was Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than.... who chose coconut as the ingredient to be used with some form of chocolate to make delicious treats. Laura will be posting a round-up of entries at the end of the month, and I'm looking forward to seeing them, as I really love coconut!


Laura Denman said...

Oh god I want to try these now! A combination of cherries, chocolate and coconut must give a divine texture. Thanks for sharing them with We Should Cocoa =)

Alicia Foodycat said...

Yum! These sound lovely!

Anne Szadorska said...

Oh I love paradise bars, and with chocolate in you really can't go wrong, I am definitely snagging this recipe!

snowy said...

These sound delicious, coconut and chocolate - mmm - but not sure about the cherries as I don't like the glace version. Like the idea of the separate layers too.

Suelle said...

I think you could replace the cherries with any other dried fruit, Snowy. I was thinking of adding stem ginger, but decided against it in the end.

laura said...

Chocolate and coconut are two of my favorite things! Yummy looking bars!

Choclette said...

Hooray Suelle, so pleased to hear you are happy with this bake - you are such a fierce critic. Bounty bars are one of my favourites too, although I generally find them too sweet for me these days. Your bars sound very good indeed, especially with the cherries in. Thanks for joining in with We Should Cocoa :)

Johanna GGG said...

I love bounty bars and this looks lovely - nothing like golden crispy coconut on top of anything but especially chocolate