Hello Coco-Lassies, you beautiful, fudgy, coconutty, caramelly, molasses bars! (Skip to recipe.)
It's no secret I love molasses - it comes from a childhood of sneaking into my grandma's barn and licking the blackstrap molasses intended for feeding the cattle. I discovered that deep, dark, delicious taste early on. Now that I'm a grown-up, I don't have to sneak my molasses anymore, and can have a spoonful whenever I feel like it. Yay!
We also love coconut, especially those luscious chocolate-covered coconut candy bars.
So the marriage between those two was bound to happen some day.
I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Coconut and Molasses, together forever in these fudgey Coco-Lasses Bars. It was a wonderful wedding. Plus, they're honeymooning in Chocolate Land - a sure sign they'll live happily ever after!
(Think of the happy couple as Nanaimo Bar's more health conscious, hippy cousins.)
First, the baking pan is slicked with a layer of melted chocolate to form a base for the fudgey filling. Next, the molasses is heated and stirred with the coconut, to moisten the coconut and infuse it with rich caramel flavour, then the coconut oil is allowed to melt and flow throughout, lusciously coating each little coconut flake with its silky softness. Another layer of creamy chocolate is smoothed over the filling.
Finally, the top is kissed with a sprinkle of flaky salt to bring out all those luscious flavours. A shower of toasted coconut crowns the bars with a little touch of nutty crunch.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: Molasses comes in three strengths: fancy molasses (or table molasses), cooking molasses, and blackstrap molasses, with fancy molasses being the mildest and blackstrap being the strongest in flavour.
Fancy molasses is the best one to use in these Coco-Lassies, as it has a more pronounced caramel flavour. However, if you can only get blackstrap or cooking molasses, use half molasses and half golden syrup, corn syrup, or brown rice syrup.
The small amount of coconut oil added to the top layer of melted chocolate helps keep it softer and prevents the whitish bloom when refrigerated.
No Bake, Salted Coco-Lasses Bars (Coco-Lassies)
gluten-free, nut-free, vegan & dairy-free if chocolate chips are dairy-free
- 1¼ cups (220gms) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (dairy-free, if necessary)
- 6 tablespoons (90ml) fancy molasses (¼ cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 6 tablespoons (90ml) water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups (275gms) unsweetened medium shredded coconut
- ½ cup (120ml) virgin coconut oil + 1 tablespoon for top layer
- 3 tablespoons long thread shredded coconut
- ⅛ teaspoon flaked sea salt
Line a 9x9 inch (23x23cm) pan with a parchment paper sling that sticks up on each end by about an inch. Crease the paper along the inside bottom edges so it sits flat in the pan.
Melt half of the chocolate chips (½ cup + 2 tablespoons) in the microwave (1 minute on high, then stir till the last bits are melted) or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Put a small dab of chocolate under the parchment paper in each corner of the pan to help keep it from sliding around. Spread the melted chocolate over the paper in the bottom of the pan - an offset spatula works best for this. Allow it to harden - 15 minutes in the fridge or longer at room temperature. *Don't wash the dish the chocolate was melted in - add the remaining chocolate chips to it and set it aside to melt again later when you add the final layer to the bars.
In a large saucepan, combine the molasses, water, and vanilla extract. Heat over medium heat just until the molasses has melted and combined with the water. Add the coconut and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, until the coconut is warmed up and the sweet liquid has all been absorbed into the coconut.
Add the coconut oil and cook and stir until the coconut oil has melted and coats all the coconut flakes, about one more minute.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and scrape the molasses-coated coconut on top of the hardened chocolate. Press it evenly into the pan with a silicone spatula. Allow to harden, about ½ hour in the fridge or longer at room temperature.
While the filling is hardening, toast the long thread coconut in a small skillet, over medium heat and stirring often, until it is golden. Allow to cool.
Melt the remaining half of the chocolate chips together with the 1 tablespoon coconut oil and spread this over the hardened filling. Sprinkle the flaked salt evenly over the top, then shower with the toasted coconut.
When the top layer has hardened, run a knife down the sides of the pan that don't have the paper sling. Lift the slab of Salted Coco-Lasses from the pan by pulling up on the paper flaps. Place it on a cutting board and cut the slab into 24 small bars (4 rows of 6 bars) or 16 larger squares.
Store the coconut molasses bars in a covered container in the fridge - they will keep for several weeks. Remove from the fridge at least 15 minutes before serving to bring them to room temperature.
Makes 16 to 24 bars.
Update, Newsflash: These bars won first place in the Crosby's Molasses 'Raising the Bar' Recipe Contest! I am so thrilled!!! Doing the happy dance!!!! Check out the other winners' great recipes there, too.
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