This recipe has been a long time in the making. Some of you may remember these Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies I posted at the end of last year. Well, those cookies were created based upon the three favorite flavors of my friend Mariah…but I made them over winter break, when we weren’t at school, so she couldn’t have any.
She was not a happy camper that she didn’t get the cookies that were pretty much based upon her request, so last week when I was getting ready to go visit her and her family, I knew I needed to make a treat that encompassed all of her favorite flavors (dark chocolate, coconut, and caramel) to make up for it.
I decided on bars because they’re delicious and so easy to transport, and you can add a whole bunch of stuff to them and they just get more and more delicious…what else could you ask for?!
I decided on a chocolate-y bar base, that’s chewy, dense, and fudgy – but not as dark and dense as a brownie. It still maintains a little bit of the chewiness of a cookie, that works well here with all the other sweet stuff going on. Into the batter went some caramel bits, which was then topped with sweetened condensed milk mixed with coconut bits.
Ugh. That top layer is chewy caramelly coconutty goodness (If you’ve never baked sweetened condensed milk on top of a bar before, magical things happen. Just look here to see.) and gives the bars some major chewiness. After that comes a little bit more of the bar mixture crumbled on top, with some coconut sprinkles for fun and prettiness.
After baking, I opted to top my chocolate coconut caramel bars with chocolate drizzle, because everything is better with a chocolate drizzle. It’s probably been proven. These bars stayed chewy for days when all wrapped up, and they travelled well! The resulting bars are dense, chewy, sweet, and delicious, and are sure to cure any sweet tooth you may have.
Oh, and for the coconut haters – it can easily be left out of the recipe, no problem. No need to substitute anything! I don’t understand your taste buds, but these bars would definitely still be awesome without the coconut.
If you make them, let me know how they turn out in the comments section below! I love to hear from you guys. And as always, I hope you enjoy them!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted (2 sticks)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups (12 3/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (2 oz.) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup caramel bits or chopped caramel candies
- 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 9-by-13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute. Allow the butter to cool for one minute. Add the egg, sugars, water, vanilla, and stir or whisk vigorously to combine.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and stir until just incorporated. Fold in the caramel bits.
- Reserve about 1 cup dough; set aside. Turn remaining dough out into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula. Mix 1/2 cup coconut with the sweetened condensed milk. Pour sweetened condensed milk mixture over the top of the dough. Using your fingers or a small cookie dough scoop, lightly crumble the reserved cookie dough over the top in marble-sized chunks. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup coconut over the top.
- Bake for about 27 to 30 minutes, or until center is mostly set and the coconut is golden brown. The sweetened condensed milk should nearly be set in all places, but possibly a little loose in the very center of the pan is okay. Bars firm up more in pan as they cool; don't overbake because you want these to stay soft and gooey.
- Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 3 hours before slicing for the cleanest cut marks (use foil overhang to lift out).
- Melt chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir. Melt in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until completely melted. When fully melted, place in a small Ziploc bag, snip the corner, and drizzle chocolate over the bars.
- Extra bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.