Almond Joy Bars
When I was a kid, my parents went to the grocery store once a month. They stuffed all five kids into the minivan and headed off to a neighboring city to stock up at one of those warehouse markets. Oh, how I dreaded those trips. It seemed to take hours, and even when we finally got home, we still had to unload two overflowing grocery carts worth of groceries from the van and put everything away in the kitchen. The only thing that made the trip bearable was the treat we got at the end of our trip — we all got to pick out a candy bar from the checkout aisle.
Oh, the decisions — I agonized over all of the choices every single month. I couldn’t understand why my sister always got boring old gum, and I certainly didn’t understand why my brothers begged for baseball cards instead of candy. Didn’t they know that they could have ANY CANDY THEY WANTED? My parents didn’t keep a lot of junk food in the house, so this was a special occasion for me!
But you know what? I always got the same thing. I would pour over every single treat, and always, without fail, end up with an Almond Joy. How could I not? Coconut? Good. Almonds? Good. Chocolate? okay, you get the point.
I found this recipe a few weeks ago and I have been just itching to make it. My husband proclaimed it one of his “very favorite things I’ve ever made,” and my daughters both got caught sneaking bites out of the kitchen. This recipe — especially if you are an Almond Joy fan — will definitely become one of your favorites. The crust is crumbly and cuts the sweetness of the gooey coconut middle, and the chocolate brings it all together. I did use dark chocolate for the topping even though the original Almond Joy is made with milk chocolate, but only to help cut the sweetness a bit, and I think it worked perfectly.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 bag (14 ounces) sweetened, shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups sliced almonds
8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
Remove from oven and prepare coconut filling. In a large bowl, combine condensed milk, coconut and vanilla. Stir to combine, and spread the mixture on to the crust, taking care not to tear or disrupt the par-baked crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is golden brown.
While the coconut is baking, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a double-boiler or in the microwave. I use the microwave, heating in 15 second increments and stirring between each heating. Do not try to melt them completely in the microwave, remove them when they are partially melted (usually after 30 to 45 seconds) and stir until the heat of the chocolate melts the rest of the chips.
Spread the melted chocolate over the baked coconut bars, and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup toasted almonds on top of the chocolate.
Put coconut bars in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, until chocolate has hardened. When chilled, remove entire dessert from the pan by pulling up on the foil liner. Slice into bars, using a sharp knife, cleaning the knife (with warm water) between cuts if you want nice, sharp bars. Serve warm or cold, but store remaining bars for up to three days in refrigerator in an airtight container.
Recipe inspiration: Glorious Treats