Monday, February 16, 2009

Black-Bottom Coconut Bars

Martha Stewart has disappointed me. I’ve gotten hooked on the recipes on her website. The easy ones. Not the ones that have a million steps, call for pans, utensils and ingredients I don’t own and/or can’t find and take hours to prepare. I love the easy ones because they are easy, always work and taste delicious. Today, I found a recipe that only fulfills two of those three things.

Billed as “a rich chocolate brownie and a chewy coconut macaroon”, these bars seemed almost too good to be true. Coconut macaroon that doesn’t call for egg whites? But I trust Martha and set out to make them. Especially since all I had to buy was the coconut. The rest of the ingredients are staples in my kitchen.

My first clue that disaster was looming was when I finished mixing the ingredients for the chocolate base and instead of the usual stiff brownie batter, my bowl was full of syrup. I gamely poured it into the pan and placed it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The timing was right although it was rather hard to tell when the sides began to pull away from the edges of the pan because the cake was only ½” thick. I made my best guess and moved on to the next step.

The coconut topping turned out to be much stiffer than the chocolate bottom. So stiff, in fact, that I had difficulty incorporating all of the ingredients into the batter. The directions are correct that you have to drop mounds of it over the chocolate base and then gently spread it around.

Lulled into a false sense of security that the worst was over, I cooled the cake in the pan and then attempted to remove it. The foil and the chocolate refused to part company. I had to exile them both to my refrigerator overnight before they agreed to go their separate ways.

Once I was able to unfuse the cake from the foil, it turned out to be delicious. The coconut topping is too heavy to be called a macaroon but it’s just right on top of a brownie.

Verdict: What were they thinking???

Black-Bottom Coconut Bars

For Chocolate Base
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)

For Coconut Topping
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 package sweetened shredded coconut (7 ounces), ½ cup reserved for sprinkling

For chocolate base: preheat oven to 375°. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang; butter bottom and sides of foil (not overhang).

Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl; melt in microwave. Add sugar and salt; 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). 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. 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. Cool completely in pan. Lift cake from pan, peel off foil, and cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container 3 to 4 days.

Recycle: vanilla extract bottle

Compost: eggshells

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