Macaroon Brownie Bars

January 31, 2011

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
Makes 16

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
3 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. pure almond extract
4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

For the Coconut Topping
2 eggs
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.


  1. I will take 2 with a glass of milk:) Thanks!

    Comment by Maria — February 1, 2011 @ 12:12 am

  2. It definitely took me a long time to come around to coconut as well. But I’m there now. I’m so there.

    These bars look fantastic! And damn do you have a lot to do in the next few weeks. Are you sure you aren’t a med student in disguise?

    Comment by Joanne — February 1, 2011 @ 12:24 am

  3. You are speaking my language with this treat! I love coconut and chocolate and couldn’t imagine a better flavour combo. Yum.

    Comment by kickpleat — February 1, 2011 @ 12:32 am

  4. i had an option like that in boarding school, not in college. i like it–it was a great way of teaching in a progressive-honest way for kids….in order to get kids to be more progressive-honest. if i explained that right.
    my love affair w coconut is never-ending.
    these look amazing dana.

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — February 1, 2011 @ 12:49 am

  5. I had self scheduled exams in college, too. It was great! I love the idea of coconut and brownies!

    Comment by Anna — February 1, 2011 @ 12:58 am

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gaby Dalkin, lindsay wickware. lindsay wickware said: @HeatherPardon turns out I'm not an inventor, I'm just psychic… […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Macaroon Brownie Bars « Dana Treat – Treat Yourself -- — February 1, 2011 @ 1:02 am

  7. These looked so fantastic I had to make them immediately. They’re currently baking now and smell amazing!

    I’ll let you know how they turn out.

    Comment by Lis — February 1, 2011 @ 1:13 am

  8. Love chocolate and coconut together, but need some more details on the pan size. Is that 9″ square pan, or a 9″ by 13″ rectangular pan? Since you mention long sides when lining the pan, I assume 9×13 but it’s not a large amount of batter so I’m left wondering. Some people need such hand holding :( Thanks; enjoy your blog lots!

    Comment by June — February 1, 2011 @ 1:28 am

  9. Good question June! It is a 9-inch square pan. I copied the recipe ver batim and I agree, it’s not that clear. When you put the parchment paper in the pan, it will overhang on two sides, not all four. That is the “long sides”. I hope that makes sense.

    Comment by dana — February 1, 2011 @ 1:37 am

  10. These look amazing – I’ll be making them as soon as my kitchen remodel is done!!! As for all your to do’s – I for one am looking forward to the Feb. 10th class and to meet you and your food face to face!

    Comment by Julie — February 1, 2011 @ 1:53 am

  11. These bars look soooooo delicious! I love anything coconut…but combined with a brownie? ::swoon:: Also think I might need to pickup the Greystone Bakery book.

    Comment by Nina — February 1, 2011 @ 2:56 am

  12. These are perfect for a cookie monster! They look fantastic!

    Comment by sally — February 1, 2011 @ 3:43 am

  13. They’re so good. I took half of them to uni this afternoon and they were gone in 10 minutes!

    June I actually used a 9×13 pan as I wasn’t sure either and they’re a great height. The brownie and the coconut are about the same size.

    Comment by Lis — February 1, 2011 @ 5:05 am

  14. I’ve never heard of self-scheduled exams before! They probably won’t work for me, though, as I’ll try and cram everything in in the last few sessions. Thank goodness I don’t do many more exams these days.

    Comment by Adele — February 1, 2011 @ 11:23 am

  15. No, the cookies monster must not be let down! NEVER EVER!
    That is some awesome college you went to!
    Love the brownies

    Comment by leslie — February 1, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  16. I love this book and I am no baker.
    These bars should be illegal.

    Comment by stacey snacks — February 1, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

  17. Thanks for posting this! I’ve been buying a similar German Chocolate Brownie at a local bakery and have been wanting to make something like that at home! I think I’ll make them tonight or tomorrow (hoping for a snow day tomorrow in Chicago…)

    Comment by Anne — February 1, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

  18. Self-scheduled exams — that sounds brutal! One thing I loved about college and grad school, and still miss to this day, were the rigid guidelines and deadlines. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, and when to do it by; exams being no exception. But that’s just me. More power to you and everyone who triumphed over the self-scheduled exams! And WHAT a brownie! I’m still coming around on brownies. Macaroons on the other hand are treats held high above the rest for me. Maybe if I combine the two, their force (for better or worse) would be unstoppable. Probably…



    Comment by heather — February 1, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  19. We had self-scheduled exams, too, and I went to school 3,000 miles away from YOUR home, so now I’m sitting here thinking, there’s no way we went to the same *college,* is there?!

    Also, I love mounds and almond joy, and brownies.

    Now, I’m freaking out. I have two boys. Shall I go on? Are you hearing the Wayne’s World jingle yet?

    Comment by cheryl — February 1, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  20. Wish you delivered to my office!

    Comment by Emily — February 1, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

  21. Mounds and Almond Joys are always the FIRST thing to go in my candy bag – they are my most favorite candy EVER. Well, maybe after Cadbury Creme eggs. These brownies look like they are right up my alley!

    Comment by Lisa @ The Cooking Bride — February 1, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  22. Oh how I love an Almond JOY!
    These look divine!
    And how cute is that:
    “More COOKIES Please!”
    ENJOY the YOGA Retreat!
    I know it will be JUST what EVERYONE needs!

    Comment by teresa — February 1, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

  23. Oh man. I need some of these!!! One of my favorite combos.

    Comment by Brooke — February 2, 2011 @ 4:53 am

  24. I would do the same; i was never crazy about coconut or nuts but now I love both especially the way you made this cookie, the coconut is made into a custard.

    Comment by tasteofbeirut — February 2, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  25. I’m only so-so about macaroons and brownies, but I think putting the two together sounds fantastic. And, I think I’d really like the mix of textures. Always good to keep cookie monsters happy too!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — February 3, 2011 @ 12:39 am

  26. These look like the perfect bars for me! I love anything with coconut.

    Comment by Ashley — March 24, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

Leave a comment