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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
12 votes, 3.92 avg. rating (78% score)

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

Ingredients

  • 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

 

Method

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

Author:

Amy Traverso

Biography:

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 !
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One Response 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.

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