Yep, it’s about that time of year.
The time of year when I really get the baking bug. Good thing is, it’s part of my job, bad thing is, my office is currently overflowing with cookies, cakes and gooey chocolate bars. And I am not joking.
My mom and I share the office that is right off the kitchen and since our pantry is a tinsy bit small for all the people we have in the house, the office has become the place for the overflowing foods… meaning all the desserts.
The plus side, when you hit a little creativity block and need some chocolate to get’s things flowing again… there is plenty of it, right there waiting for you. What?? It works, you should totally try it.
It doesn’t help that both Sunday and Monday were cozy, snowy days. Days that I kind of want to stay in bed (and watch Christmas movies… don’t hate me), but I actually can’t because um, life is a knocking. Lucky for me, life can sometimes mean baking.
I am so lucky. I know it. I do.
I am not lying when I say that I literally spent my weekend baking.
If you are in the area, stop over, I have lot’s of treats!! Although, you see, I have this grand plan. It’s a good one. I am planning to bribe the workers down at the barn with loads of cookies in hopes that they will work day and night to finish up that thing already! It seems as if we have hit EVERY. SINGLE. road block there could be when it comes to that thing. Did I tell you guys about how, as of right now, the barn is not capable of having internet?? Yeah, I know. We are trying to figure something out, but the problem is that Comcast cannot dig a new line because there is this stupid cut off date of when they can no longer dig. In the mountains, the ground freezes come mid to late October so they make these rules that say things like “no digging after October 15th”. Thing is, it has been pretty sunny and warm around here and the ground is not yet frozen. I have to admit this is pretty unusual for this time of year, but hey, work with it! Unfortunately, I guess rules are rules. UGH.
Maybe I can bribe whoever MAKES these rules with cookies and gooey chocolate bars? What do you think?
Yeah, yeah, I know.
Anyway, let’s talk about these chocolate coconutty bars.
I have to say that the title is a bit misleading. While there is tons of chocolate, coconut, crunch and gooeyness in these bars they are not really a caramel bar. The “caramel” topping is similar to caramel, but easier, and better than caramel. What I am trying to say is that I used a combo of sweetened condensed milk, maple syrup and butter to give these bars their gooey deliciousness and I could not be happier with my decision. Actually, I am jumping with joy over them. You will come to see this week, that I am all about sweetened condensed milk right now.
Basically these are glorified seven layer bars. You start with a vanilla cookie base that is soft and sugar cookie like, pre-bake it, and while they’re baking you make the “caramel” on the stove. And all you do for the caramel is toast the butter and then simmer the remaining ingredients together until they thicken and turn a light golden shade. Which means things are getting really good.
Next, you layer. A little chocolate (err, a lot), coconut and some walnuts for crunch. If you are not a nut fan you can leave these out, but I love the flavor and texture they give. You can also swap in whatever YOUR favorite nut is. Then just pour the caramel over the layers and bake until the top gets all caramelized. Ohhmmyygosh. So flipping good.
You can bake these in a 9×13 inch baking dish or divide the dough between two pie plates. The pie plates make these fun for Thanksgiving! And then you actually eat these warm. YESS. You can also totally eat them at room temperature, but warm is always so good. I love warm foods… especially of the chocolate variety.
Warm Toasted "Caramel" Coconut Gooey Chocolate Crunch Bars.
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract divided
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened whatever you prefer)
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish* with parchment paper allowing the side to hang over the dish.
In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar, salt, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Using a mixer beat the mixture until it is smooth, scraping down the sides a few times. Add the flour and water, beat until combined.
Press the dough into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden. Remove from the oven. The bars will seem buttery, this is fine.
Meanwhile, make the "caramel". Add the butter to a medium sauce pan. Cook butter over medium heat until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Add the sweetened condensed milk and maple syrup. Cook the sauce over low heat for 8-10 minute, stirring often to prevent the caramel from burning and sticking to the pan*. Cook until it thickens slightly and turns light golden in color. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Once the cookie base is out of the oven, sprinkle the top of the cookies with chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Next, sprinkle on the walnuts and 1 cup shredded coconut. Pour the "caramel" over top of everything in an even layer. If needed, use a spoon to gently spread the caramel into an even layer. Sprinkle the top with the remaining coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is beginning to brown and caramelize.
Allow the bars to cool about 20 minutes and then slice and serve warm.
Warm Toasted “Caramel” Coconut Gooey Chocolate Crunch Bars – best Tuesday treats ever!