Saturday, October 3, 2015

Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars from Flavorful

In my new book Flavorful, I wanted to present a collection of recipes in the most popular flavors – the ones that diners go for first on the dessert menu. Nothing too sophisticated or avant garde, just desserts in flavors that people love and return to

time and again. Chocolate is certainly one of the most popular flavors, and it may just be numero uno on the list. I know it is on mine. Inspired by the Almond Joy Candy bar, these indulgent brownies come from the Chocolate chapter of Flavorful

The fudgy brownie base is topped with a sticky coconut layer into which whole toasted almonds are embedded, arranged so that each portion gets an almond. The filling is then covered with a half dark, half milk chocolate glaze. If you love the magic combination of chocolate and coconut, these brownies are for you. Enjoy them at room temperature or chilled, as you prefer. They also freeze nicely, provided you wrap them well first.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars

Makes 16 bars

Chocolate Almond Brownie layer:
4 ounces/113 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (113 g/4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
2 large eggs
1 cup (200 g/7 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (66 g/2.3 oz) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon (2 g/0.07 oz) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (60 g/2.1 oz) blanched whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Coconut Almond Layer:
1 ½ cups (120 g/4.2 oz) unsweetened grated coconut
1/3 cup (108 g/3.8 oz) light corn syrup
16 whole blanched almonds, toasted

Milk Chocolate Glaze:
2 ounces (57 g) high quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces (57 g) high quality semisweet chocolate (61 or 62% cacao solids), coarsely chopped
½ cup (116 g/4 oz) heavy cream
2 tablespoons (41 g/1.4 oz) light corn syrup

Make the brownies:
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, letting the foil overhang two opposite edges by at least 2 inches. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Remove the top part of the double boiler from the bottom and allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes, until just warm.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until blended. Whisk in the cooled chocolate-butter mixture. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour well until blended. Stir in the vanilla extract and almonds. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the brownies begin to crack on top (a toothpick inserted into the brownies will come out with moist crumbs clinging to it). Set the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.
4. Once cool, refrigerate the brownies until chilled, at least 2 hours.  

Make the Coconut Almond Layer:
5. Place the coconut in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the corn syrup and pulse until the coconut is evenly moistened.
6. Remove the brownies from the refrigerator and, using the foil ends as handles, lift them out of the pan. Invert the brownies onto a cutting board and peel off the foil. Reinvert the brownies so they are right side up. Using a long, serrated knife, trim off about 1/8-inch from each edge of the brownie square. Using a metal spatula, spread the coconut mixture over the brownies in an even layer. Go over the coconut again with the spatula, make the layer as flat and even as possible. Arrange the almonds, evenly spaced in rows of four-by-four, on top of the coconut, pressing down on them to make them stick.

Glaze the brownies:
7. Place the milk and semisweet chocolates in the bowl of a food processor and process just until finely chopped. Transfer the chocolate to a medium bowl and set aside.
8. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and gently whisk until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth.
9. Place the brownies on a cake rack set on top of a foil-lined baking sheet. Slowly pour the glaze over the brownies, covering the top completely and allowing it to spill over to cover the sides. Tip the brownies up on one side to let any excess glaze that is pooling in the center slide off. The almonds should be covered with a light coating of glaze, but you should still be able to see them all. Refrigerate the brownies until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes.
10. Cut the brownies into 16 squares. Each square should have an almond on top. Serve the brownies at room temperature or chilled, as you prefer. Store the squares in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.