Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chocolate Coconut Cream Bars

I was looking for something chocolatey to make for a dessert.  It was to be a hot day, so I didn't want it to be anything too over the top, but I did want it to be special.  I found just the thing in Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow.
These bars are a delicious mix of semi-sweet and white chocolate together with shortbread and coconut.  Yummy!
I had a little bit of trouble with the original recipe, mainly with the filling.  I'm not sure if there was an ingredient misprint,  but my filling didn't set up at all.  Upon reviewing the quantities called for, it was also a mystery how the resulting amount of filling could end up making as thick a layer as shown in the cookbook photo.  I did end up making a few necessary changes.
In the end, the result was wonderful - like a cookie with truffle filling on top.  Mmmmm...
Be warned, the bars take a bit of time from start to finish since there is intermittent cooling time required.  They're worth the wait, though.  These bars are delightful!

Chocolate Coconut Cream Bars
Adapted from Fran Bigelow

Coconut Filling -
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 oz white chocolate, chopped fine
4 oz unsweetened desiccated coconut

Shortbread Crust -
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or mini chips)
6 oz white chocolate, chopped fine
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (sifted then measured)
1/4 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

Ganache -
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine (or chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream

1.  For the Coconut Filling: stir the cream in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat.  When the mixture comes to a simmer, remove the pan from the heat.  Stir or whisk in the white chocolate until smooth.  Stir in the coconut.

2.  Transfer the coconut mixture to a medium bowl.  Place a piece of plastic wrap so that it covers the surface of the mixture.  Cover the bowl and leave for three hours at room temperature (if you are in a hurry, you can chill, stirring every so often, until the mixture thickens).

3.  Meanwhile for the Shortbread Crust:  line a 9" X 13" baking dish with parchment paper.  Lightly spray the sides with oil.  Set aside.

4.  Place the semi-sweet chocolate in the bowl of a food processor (skip this step if you are using mini chips).  Pulse until the pieces are about 1/8 - 1/16 inch.  Set aside (it will make the finished bars prettier if you sift out any chocolate dust before using).

5.  Place the white chocolate in a small bowl.  Microwave for 20 seconds, stir.  Microwave for 15 seconds, stir.  Repeat until the white chocolate is melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.

6.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and cornstarch.  Set aside.

7.  Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor.  Beat until light and fluffy.

8.  Add the white chocolate and beat until thoroughly blended.

9.  Add the flour mixture and semi-sweet chocolate.  Beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.

10.  Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Place in the refrigerator or freezer until very firm.

11.  Preheat the oven to 325°.  Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes or until it is light golden and puffy.  Transfer the baking dish to a rack to cool completely.

12.  Remove the plastic wrap from the coconut cream filling.  Beat briefly, until the mixture is soft and somewhat fluffy.

13.  Spread the filling evenly over the crust.  Chill while you work on the ganache.

14.  For the Ganache: stir the cream in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat.  When the mixture comes to a simmer, remove the pan from the heat.  Stir or whisk in the semi-sweet chocolate until smooth.  Let the ganache cool to 80° (feels cool to the touch).

15.  Pour the ganache evenly over the coconut cream filling, using an offset spatula to spread as needed.  Cover and chill for 20 minutes.

16.  Cut into bars.  Serve!  To store: cover and chill.  The white chocolate in the shortbread gets very hard, making the crust very crunchy when cold.  If chilled, bring the bars to room temperature for an hour before serving.

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