I went to a college where we had self-scheduled exams. After classes were over, there was a 10 day period when exams were held at three different times of day. When you were ready to take your European History exam for example, you showed up to the appointed place in the morning, afternoon, or evening and took the test. If you decided you weren’t quite ready, you could wait until you were. Whenever I tell people about this phenomenon, they always ask if people cheated. Of course they did. But we all signed an honor code at the beginning of our freshman year saying we wouldn’t.
For me, exam week was a very interesting exercise in time management. Because I went to college 3,000 miles away from home, I always had a plane ticket limiting my time. I would get to the end of the semester, look at all the papers I still had to write, all the studying I had to do, and the exams I had to take, I would panic, and then I would realize that I just simply had to get it all done. Regardless of how overwhelming the work, how many all-nighters I was going to have to pull, I had a deadline with wings.
I am reminded of that time in my life because I have a lot to get done in the next couple of weeks. I am teaching two Seasonal Feast classes, a private class, cooking a yoga retreat dinner for 24 people, and making a birthday cake for my younger son. All before February 12th. And classes aren’t just teaching, there is tons of prep involved and recipe testing, shopping, and typing up of recipes.
This would be the time to ask for a hall pass on the weekly treat idea. But I can’t. I went to Randy’s new office for the first time last week and there was a white board outside his cube. On that board was written, “More cookies please” and it was signed the Cookie Monster. I mean, I can’t let the cookie monster down, right? No matter how busy I am.
So this week it is Coconut Brownie Bars. I’m actually surprised this recipe spoke to me. The two candy bars that were always left in my Halloween bag were Almond Joy (because of the nuts) and Mounds (because of the dark chocolate). And both of them were also left in there because of the coconut. My parents were thrilled about this fact because they are both huge coconut fans. Nuts I still don’t like in my sweets but dark chocolate and I are much better friends. Coconut – hmmmm. I’m still on the fence. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t. This bar is a nice mix of a brownie and a macaroon and I actually really liked the contrast of tastes and textures.
Chocolate and Coconut Previously on Dana Treat: Coconut Bars
One Year Ago: Baked White Bean Purée
Two Years Ago: Lentils with Capers, Walnuts, and Mint
Macaroon Brownie Bars
The Greyston Bakery Cookbook
For the Brownie Base
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. pure almond extract
4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
For the Coconut Topping
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp. pure almond extract
1/3 cup flour
2 ¼ cups (7 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut
Prepare the brownie base
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving about 1 inch of paper overhanging the two long sides.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt until well blended.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients until well combined. Stir in the chocolate.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the sides begin to set but the center is still soft. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool slightly.
Prepare the coconut topping
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the almond extract. Gradually stir in the flour, mixing thoroughly. Stir in the coconut.
Using two spoons, gently place spoonfuls of the mixture over the partially baked brownie base and spread evenly with the back of a spoon for a rubber spatula.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle come out almost clean. (Some crumbs will still be attached. Do not overbake.) Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool completely. Remove the brownies by grasping and lifting the edges of the parchment paper. Cut into bars.