Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars

I really like to bake and I tend to roam the Internet for new ideas. I don’t really own many recipe books because I thought that everything was on the Internet!

Well, for Christmas one of my friends set out to change my mind and gave me Baked Elements as a wonderful gift. I haven’t searched the Internet for these Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars, but wow. This book has so many good recipes and ideas that I am in love with this book. You should definitely check it out…and make these bars, too!

The Coconut

  • 3 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread the coconut in an even layer and place in the oven for a maximum of 12 minutes. Toss and turn the coconut every four minutes to cook the coconut evenly.

Toasted Coconut

The Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Turn the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with Pam or something similar. You can also line it with parchment paper, but I’m not the biggest fan of it.

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. I found this task to be easier when following the book and cutting the butter into inch size squares. Add the vanilla and flour and beat until combined.

Place the cookie mix into the pan. It’s best if you pat your hands with flour before you take it out of the bowl. Once in the pan, press the cookie mixture so that it creates a flat layer. Press a fork into the mix and place in the oven for approximately 25 minutes. Depending on your oven you may need to leave it in for a little bit longer, but 25 minutes was perfect for mine.

Cookie Base

 

The Caramel

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of water

In a medium saucepan combine the corn syrup, sugars, and 2 tablespoons of water and stir. Set the saucepan over low heat and continue to stir until the sugar dissolves. The recipe then calls for a candy thermometer…which I don’t have, so I winged it. If you have a candy thermometer, you want the mix to reach about 240 degrees. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, mix for about seven minutes. While keeping an eye on this mix, use a small saucepan and over medium heat stir the cream and sweetened condensed milk. Don’t let it boil, just let it get warm. Once the sugar mix becomes an amber color, stir in the butter and the milk mixture. If you have a candy thermometer, you want this mix to again reach 240 degrees. Once complete, stir in two cups of the coconut and vanilla.

Pour the caramel onto the cookie base and make an even layer with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining cup of coconut on the top of the caramel. Let cool for one hour and then move the cookie to the refrigerator for another two hours.

Caramel

Bar Assembly

  • 6 ounces dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli bittersweet)
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat, or microwave if double boiling is not an option. Cut the bars into your perfect shape – the recipe calls for 1.5 inches, but I just cut them however I felt at the time. Dip half the bar into the chocolate, or drizzle chocolate on the bar, get creative! Place the bars onto a baking sheet and then place the baking sheet in the refrigerator again for about 15 minutes.

All that’s left to do is eat them!

Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars

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