Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coconut-Caramel Bars

Well, folks, my summer break has officially ended.  I was meeting with the 90 some teachers and staff at my school this past week for the second full day meeting in a row.  As my group of teachers and I were finishing up our lunch, I busted out these rich morsels of joy.  I ran off to deliver one to a couple friends of mine that were elsewhere in the office, and when I came back, the teachers all demanded the recipe.  Some comments they said: top notch, a bite of heaven, amazing, I could only take one bite for fear of death by sugar.  Oh, yeah.  These are slightly similar to the Girl Scout Cookies Samoas (caramel delights) in bar form.  They've got toasted coconut, shortbreadish cookie, chocolate and caramel.  Honestly though, how can you go wrong with that combination in any form?
 Coconut-Caramel Bars
source: King Arthur Flour website (one of my favorite go-to sites for good baking recipes)

1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 t vanilla
1 lg egg
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
2 c shredded coconut
8 oz caramel sauce

To toast the coconut, preheat the oven to 350.  Spread teh coconut in a 9x13 pan in an even layer. 
Bake the coconut for 18-22.  Stir it half way through, and watch it closely.  I was skepitical of this step, and I thought for sure that the coconut was going to burn.  Sure enough, it came out golden and delicious.  This step could be skipped, but I think that toasted coconut tastes amazing.
In a large bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg.  Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 1/2 c of the toasted coconut. 
Pour the mixture into the 9x13 pan and press it so it covers up the bottom of the pan. 
Bake it for 15 minutes.
Pour half of the caramel over the cooked crust.  Return it to the oven and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes. 
When it's done, the caramel will be a little bubbly.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the crust.  Let them sit for a few minutes to let them melt.  Spread the chocolate with a spatula to cover the crust.  The next time I make this, I'm going to use a little less chocolate. 
Sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top.  Cut into bars. You should be able to cut these into 24 small bars.  You don't need them much bigger than that since they are so rich. 
My husband and I had, no devoured, one of these bars about an hour after they were sitting out.  The next day, I kept them in the fridge, and the chocolate on top was more like a milk chocolate Hershey's bar on top.  I personally liked the bars a little better when the chocolate was soft.  They just melted in your mouth. 

As an added dose of glory, you can add some chopped pecans on top.  Unless, of course, you're delivering them to someone that has a nut allergy.  If that's the case, leave the nuts off.  :)  

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