A simple, rich and beautiful dessert. The fact that it's gluten-free is just icing on the errrrr....bar.
My assignment for this month's Secret Recipe Club was the lovely Jess Smith of Inquiring Chef. Jess and her husband, Frank, live in Bangkok, Thailand. Her blog's "About" page is one of the best I've ever seen. Jess has a crisp, easy-to-read writing style and her photography is stellar. Don't walk, CLICK over to her blog right now to see what she's up to. I'll wait here for you...
This recipe is very easy to make. The hardest part is waiting for the whole dang thing to cool before you slice into it. We've had very "Bangkok-y " weather here for the last few days, and my kitchen is warmer and much muggier than usual. While this makes working with chocolate quite messy, I'd make these bars no matter the weather. They're just that good.
The crust, for starters, is fantastic. Made with coconut flour, brown sugar, eggs, butter, and almond extract, it imparts a rich (yet delicate?) balance to the chocolate, unsweetened coconut shavings, and sweetened condensed milk that sit atop it in layers. If you aren't a coconut flour fan, you could modify the crust layer to something more short-breadish like this. As for me, I'd like to marry coconut flour, so I found the recipe stupendously delicious.
Jess notes that you can use either sweetened or unsweetened coconut. I, for one, think my teeth would fall straight out of my head if the coconut was sweetened; the recipe gets plenty of sweetness from the condensed milk. But that's up to you. (BTW, I used coconut "chips" because I didn't have any of the shredded variety on hand.)
I also drizzled it with a mixture of Nutella and coconut oil, as seen in the first and last photos.
Good grief. These are hard to share.
Good grief. These are hard to share.
(The printable recipe is here.)
Creamy Chocolate Coconut Layer Bars (Gluten-Free)
Makes 16 bars
½ cup coconut flour
⅓ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 and ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 and ¼ cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, according to preference)
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare an 8" x 8" baking dish by greasing with butter and then laying down a piece of buttered parchment paper that is large enough to overlap the sides of the dish. (This is useful for removing the finished recipe from the baking dish in one piece; it also speeds up the cooling time.)
To prepare the crust: in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, salt, and the brown sugar, breaking up as many of the sugar lumps as possible. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, the eggs (be careful not to have the melted butter so hot that it will curdle the eggs), and the almond extract. Pour the egg mixture into the coconut flour/sugar mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon just until the two mixtures are incorporated (don't over-stir). Pour the crust batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading to a smooth layer with the back of the spoon. Bake for 8-10 minutes, just until set. (The crust won't be brown after this amount of time, so don't wait for that to happen before removing it from the oven...)
After 8-10 minutes, remove the crust from the oven. Pour over the chocolate chips in an even layer, then sprinkle the coconut over the chocolate, then drizzle the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the coconut. Return dish to the oven for 13-17 minutes, until coconut begins to slightly brown (this will depend on your oven, so start checking it at 13 minutes).
Allow bars to completely cool before slicing. When cool, cut into 16 squares.