Almond Joy Bars-0042

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.

Please give this one a try!  As always, I invite you all over here at Culinary.net to head over to Lemon Sugar and say hi!  I’m also on Facebook and Twitter, so please do stop by!

Enjoy!

Almond Joy Bars
Yield:  36 bars
Prep Time:  20 minutes ♦ Bake Time:  Approx 25 minutes

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spread the almonds in a thin layer on a large baking sheet, and toast them for about 5 minutes until they turn a light, golden brown.  Do not over-bake.  Set toasted almonds aside to cool completely before using.   After the almonds come out of the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
 
Meanwhile, prepare a 9×13-inch pan with aluminum foil, leaving 1 to 2 inch flaps that hang over the long edge.  This will aid in removal of the cooked bars.  Spray the foil with cooking spray, and set pan aside.
 
To make the crust, combine the butter and sugar in a food processor until smooth and completely incorporated.  Add the flour and salt, and pulse until well combined.  Add one cup of the toasted almonds (make sure they are cool!) and again pulse to combine.  Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, and bake for 5 to 7 minutes at 350°F.

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.

Enjoy!

Recipe inspiration:  Glorious Treats

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