Those outside of America may be unaware of either Almond Joy® or Mounds® candy bars. This means they are also unaware of the “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t” debate that would have torn America apart decades ago if not for shelf after shelf groaning with other candy options. Rest assured, however, there is a divide over which bar is best, which remained alive in Gourmandistan until Michelle created a delightful compromise. Both Michelle and Steve chose the coconut treats quite often when growing up, but as sometimes happens in Gourmandistan, went separate ways with our preferences. Michelle liked the dark chocolate covering on her sugary pressed coconut Mounds bar. Steve also has always liked dark chocolate. But, to his thrifty eye, the addition of two almonds per purchase made the less tasty milk chocolate coating of Almond Joy a better value. These days, of course, we don’t really buy candy bars, as our kitchen is quite well equipped to crank out sweet things. Combining dark chocolate, almonds and coconut made what to us was the ultimate Almond Joy/Mounds mashup—a rich, sweet and chewy concoction we cut into bars, froze and enjoyed for quite a while. Have we eliminated the option of not feeling like a nut? Yes, but it’s Gourmandistan. That option left our realm a long time ago.
CHOCOLATE ALMOND COCONUT BARS
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s “Lacy Coconut-Topped Brownies” in Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies)
- 1 egg white
- 1-1/4 c. unsweetened dried flaked coconut
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- large pinch of salt
- 1/4 c. slivered almonds
Combine egg white, coconut, sugar, vanilla and salt in a stainless steel (or other heatproof) mixing bowl. Set the bowl in a large skillet of simmering water. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the bowl, for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is hot and the egg whites have become opaque. Remove bowl from water and stir in almonds. Set aside.
- 1 stick (8 TB) unsalted butter, in pieces
- 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 c. + 2 TB sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs, cold
- 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350° F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9″ square pan with foil. Place butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Set in the skillet of simmering water. Stir frequently until melted and hot. Remove bowl from water.
With a wooden spoon, stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Add eggs, stirring well. Stir in flour and beat vigorously until batter becomes glossy and smooth. Scrape batter into prepared baking pan and level out with a spatula. Using your fingers, drop the topping mixture over the brownie batter, distributing the nuts and coconut evenly.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, then remove from pan.
- 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 3/4 tsp. coconut oil or solid vegetable shortening
Melt chocolate and coconut oil together in a small saucepan over low heat. Place in a plastic sandwich bag. Cut off a tiny bit of the corner of the bag. (Or use an icing bag with a small round tip.) Drizzle chocolate mixture over tops of brownies.
Refrigerate brownies until chocolate is set. Then cut into squares.