Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chunk Bars {ModBak}

This is the last bar cookie recipe in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of the Modern Baker Challenge. If you don’t like coconut, you won’t like these bars. If you do, you’ll love them.

This recipe starts with a rich, buttery crust made from flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and lots of butter. After mixing up the ingredients, I pressed the dough gently into the pan, then baked it for about 15 minutes, until it just started to take on some color.

While the crust was cooling, I mixed up the topping, which consisted of brown sugar, eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, sweetened shredded coconut, pecans, and bittersweet chocolate. I mixed all these ingredients together and spread the topping over the cooled crust.

I baked the bars at 350°F for about 25 minutes, until the filling was set and nicely browned. These bars smelled so good while they were baking, with the chocolate and pecans, and with the coconut getting nice and toasty.

I let the bars cool in the pan, then cut them into the recommended 2-inch squares. They were as good as they smelled. Rich, buttery, chocolatey, and with a wonderful coconut flavor.

The only thing I would do differently next time would be to cut them smaller, as they were insanely rich. I could easily see cutting the recipe in half and still having enough for the whole family. Or perhaps making the full recipe but freezing half of the slab before cutting it into bars.

Either way, I will definitely be making these again soon.

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Raisin Pecan Spice Bars {ModBak}

The third recipe in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of the Modern Baker Challenge is an old-fashioned, straight from your grandmother’s oven kind of recipe. Spicy, chock full of raisins and nuts, Nick Malgieri hits the nail on the head when he describes these bars as “homey”.

I made a half recipe. We had plenty of sweets around, and I knew that since these bars had raisins in them, the girls would leave them for me. So instead of the 9 x 13-inch pan called for in the recipe, I broke out an 8 x 8-inch pan and lined it with parchment foil.

The bars have a lot of ingredients in them, but they mixed up quickly and were in the oven in just a few minutes. I baked the batter at 350°F for about 25 minutes, until it was well-risen and spongy to the touch, about like a cake.

I cooled the cake in the pan, then inverted it onto a cutting board, peeled off the parchment, and turned it right side up. I cut the cake into 2-inch bars.

These bars were so good! They had an almost gingerbread-like spiciness to them, and the raisins and pecans gave just the right amount of flavor and texture. To my surprise, the kids even tried them — and liked them!

This recipe is definitely a repeat. It’s especially perfect for the holidays or those cold Winter days when you want something homey and comforting to warm you.

Sicilian Fig Bars {ModBak} — Move Over, Newtons!

When I saw this recipe in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of The Modern Baker, I knew I wanted to make them. I love figs, and I’m especially crazy about Fig Newtons. So I signed up for the official Modern Baker Challenge post and added figs to the grocery list. I have been trying to bake the recipes in this section in order, but once I had figs in the cupboard, I couldn’t wait to make these.

The ingredients list is short: figs, water, apricot preserves, dark rum, cinnamon, and cloves. And other than the figs, I had everything else on hand. After snipping the figs into a saucepan, I added the remaining ingredients, brought it to a boil, and simmered everything for 10 minutes or so, until the figs were soft.  I puréed the fig mixture in the food processor, then set it aside while I prepared the dough.

 

The dough for the fig bars is the same dough used to make biscotti regina. I made a double batch of the biscotti dough, half of which I used for the regina, and the other half to make these fig bars.

Beginning with 1/3 of the dough, I rolled it into a 12-inch rope.

I flattened the rope into a rectangle about 4 inches wide.

Then I spread 1/3 of the fig mixture on the dough,…

… folded the top half over the center,…

… and folded up the bottom half. I pressed the dough to seal it, then flipped it seam side down and put it on a cookie sheet.

I made three dough cylinders, which I put on an unrimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

I baked the bars at 350°F for about 20 minutes, until the dough was firm and golden. As I removed the pan from the oven, I inadvertently tipped it ever so slightly. Unfortunately, given the flat, rimless cookie sheet and the slickness of the parchment paper, that was enough to send 2 of the 3 cookie bars sliding off the tray and onto the bottom of the oven. Note to self: next time, use a jellyroll pan.

I let the remaining bar cool, then cut it into cookies. They weren’t pretty, but they were delicious. Both the dough and filling reminded me of my beloved Fig Newtons, especially in texture. But the filling was much more flavorful. The apricot preserves added a little citrusy sweetness, while the rum, cinnamon, and cloves gave it a spicy depth.

My fig bars could never pass for Fig Newtons. But I would pass up Newtons for these fig bars any day.