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Congo Bars | Chocolate Chip Squares Studded with Pecans and Flavored with Coconut

Congo Bars | Chocolate Chip Squares Studded with Pecans and Flavored with Coconut
31 votes, 3.47 avg. rating (69% score)
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If you like soft chocolate chip cookies, you probably like blondies and Congo bars even better, since the ratio of chewy center to crisp edges is more in your favor. This Congo bars recipe, adapted from the Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook from former Yankee editor Susan Peery, yields delicious chocolate chip squares studded with pecans and flavored with coconut.

Congo Bars
Photo/Art by Amy Traverso
Congo Bars

I haven’t been able to pin the exact origin of this recipe, but it’s likely that adding “Congo” to the name was intended to make the bars sound exotic, since coconut was once an unusual commodity. I do know that Congo bars reached peak popularity in the 1980s, though they were as likely to be made without the coconut at that time. It’s how I first encountered them. But what’s in a name, anyway? What’s in the pan is more important, and these bars are terrific.


Congo Bars

Total time: 40 minutes; hands-on time: 15 minutes


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 2/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, melted then slightly cooled, plus more for pan
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans



Preheat oven to 350° and set a rack to the middle position. Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, coconut, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients and stir with a spatula just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with spatula. Bake until top is browned and shiny, 2o to 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: 12 servings



Amy Traverso


Amy Traverso


Senior lifestyle editor Amy Traverso oversees Yankee's Food and Home & Garden departments and contributes articles to the magazine. Amy book, The Apple Lover's Cookbook (W.W. Norton), won an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) cookbook award for the category American. Follow !
Updated Thursday, June 6th, 2013

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2 Responses to Congo Bars | Chocolate Chip Squares Studded with Pecans and Flavored with Coconut

  1. Barbara Freeman May 8, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    Since here in Maine we refer to Congregational churches as “Congo” churches, my guess is that congo bars originated as a staple at church suppers or bake sales. Recipes for these treats are often found in local organizations’ fundraising cookbooks, and they show up in bakeries and at sales, probably at some suppers, too.

  2. Ada Simpson September 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    I think there’s something seriously wrong with this recipe. I made it exactly as the directions state. After baking for 25 minutes it wasn’t even close to done. It’s been in the oven for almost 40 right now and still not done in the middle. I statrted looking at other similar recipes onlline. Most call for 2- 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda. The requires only 1/2 teaspoon. I sense a misprint and probably why my batch is not baking properly. Such a waste of time and ingredients!

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