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