High Country Baking: ‘Choc-Coco-Nut Squares’ a tasty bar cookie
August 12, 2014
Editor's note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Chocolate, coconut, and almonds are a classic combination and this rich and chewy-to-almost-gooey bar cookie does them proud. It reminds some of its fans of one of America's favorite candy bars made with the same ingredients.
It's a no-brainer to put together: Quickly bake and cool a cookie-crumb base, scatter the three main ingredients over it, bathe them in sweetened condensed milk and slip the pan back in the oven until bubbly and golden. What could be easier?
Use fresh ingredients and good chocolate, the kind that you'd eat plain; it'll pay off in both taste and texture.
Make in a 9-inch square metal baking pan.
1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 30 Nabisco chocolate wafers, crushed)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup almonds, chopped medium and toasted
1 1/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut, lightly packed
4 1/2 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk (one can)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line the baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil, extending it several inches on two opposing sides to use as handles when removing the baked slab of cookies. If using regular foil, grease it well.
Mix the base ingredients in a bowl until all the chocolate crumbs are evenly moistened. Set this aside for several minutes so the crumbs can fully absorb the butter. Squeeze it between your fingers; it should stick together. If needed, add a little more melted butter. Pour the base into the prepared pan and pat it until it's level and even. Bake for about 5 minutes, until set and fragrant. Remove and cool on a rack. It will harden as it cools.
Sprinkle the chopped almonds, coconut, and chocolate pieces evenly over the cooled base. Leaving a quarter-inch border all around the pan, drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top (use a rubber or silicone spatula to remove every bit of it from the can).
Bake until the sweetened milk is bubbly all around the edges, with a few bubbles in the middle, and turns a light golden, about 25-33 minutes. Don't bake too long or the squares won't be soft and chewy. Remove the pan to a rack to cool completely. Once cooled, chill in the refrigerator, covered, for several hours to firm the slab up and make cutting the bars easier. Use the foil handles to remove the slab and cut it into squares with a thin, sharp knife. The bars are good at any temperature: If eaten straight from the freezer, they're dense and slightly chewy, when refrigerated, they're quite chewy, and they're almost gooey when served at room temperature. Store, covered airtight, frozen for a month, refrigerated for a week or at cool room temperature for five days.
This is a variation of a recipe from "The Good Cookie" by Tish Boyle.
Vera Dawson, author of the new high-altitude cookbook "Cookies in the Clouds," (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC's Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.