Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Giving the Girl Scouts a run for their money...

Today is Tuesday and you know what we're about to talk about - the weekly Wednesday Treat Day! Sometimes I just pick a recipe and run it past Jeff to see if he likes the sound of it, other times I deluge him with an array of options and let him decide based on the title. I used the latter method and he picked out these Coconut Caramel Candy Bars to try.

The bottom of these sturdy bars is a rich, chewy blondie-like base that is threaded with bits of toasted coconut. The dough is not dry and crumbly like some bar cookies, but it is not super sticky either - I found it to be too stiff to spread with a spatula and a bit too soft to use my fingers. When I make a dough like this, I prefer to cover the top with a piece of plastic wrap once it is in the pan and use a measuring cup to push and level the dough out. Much less messy!

Midway through baking, the pan is taken out and the hot partially-baked crust is strewn with chunky bits of caramel. The crust goes back to finish baking and melt the caramel. If I were to make this again, I would probably add a few more ounces worth of the caramel as the amount called for created a fairly thin layer. Chopped bittersweet chocolate is then added on top and after a few minutes of sitting on the counter, the chocolate has softened enough to create a smooth layer on top. The finishing touch is a scattering of toasted coconut to give a hint of what's to come.

With a dense thin base, a slick of hidden caramel and layer of chocolate on top, these neat and tidy bars are sure to please coconut lovers with a flavor somewhat reminiscent of those infamous Girl Scout Samoas.

Just a couple days ago, we used carrots as a starting point of thick dressing for a quinoa salad - the bright orange vegetable was once again highlighted tonight with this Carrot Orzo dish we made for dinner.

The carrots need to be finely chopped (to about the same size of the rice-shaped pasta), so to make quick work of them, they are roughly chopped and then pulsed in a food processor. The orzo and carrots are then briefly toasted for a few minutes in a couple knobs of butter. The liquid used to cook the orzo is heavy on the broth and light on the water, but you can play around with those ratios to suit your taste - the original called for much more water, but we just prefer the extra flavor. Once the orzo has absorbed the liquid, the pasta gains a creamy element by adding a handful of fresh grated Parmesan cheese. While a few chopped green minced onions brought a pleasant note at the end, what we thought really set this dish apart was the addition of fragrant fresh rosemary that brought this pasta dish to life.


  1. Another happy wednesday for Jeff :-) The bars look so good, more caramel can never hurt. The girl scouts should be worried -- just let us know when we can start ordering your goodies online!

  2. Good idea, Joe could start a business. It's too bad I can't find caramel around these days. Also I love coconut but I'm the only one that likes it in the family. I think those treats will go pretty fast tomorrow.

  3. Mmmm, those bars look heavenly Joe! I love anything with chocolate and coconut. Allen has a great idea! Let us know when we can place online orders ;-)


  4. That Jeff must be very popular at work. Those look wonderful. I have about 3 bags of coconut on my shelf right now -- I'm not sure how or why they got there. This sounds like a great use for them.

  5. You'd have an online community ready to order if you ever went commercial with this stuff :) These looks YUUUUUMMY!

  6. Allen - Yes, he was quite the happy one!

    Helene - It's not too hard to make though, you should give caramel a try!

    Val - Maybe someday!

    Tracy - He likes to think it's his charming personality, but we all know it is the treats!

    Lori - Thanks!