Monday, March 9, 2015

Chocolate (and coconut) Marble Bars

I received a request in a comment to look for a recipe for chocolate marbled coconut bars.  In addition to being really excited about getting a request (yay!), I can't resist a good search challenge.  (One of my grandmothers was a librarian, so I think it's a genetic issue.)

After looking through a few books, I came across Chocolate Marble Bars in my copy of Pillsbury's Best 1000 Recipes: Best of the BAKE-OFF Collection.  This book was originally published in 1959 and contains the recipes from the first ten years of the Pillsbury baking competition.  These recipes pre-date the use of the convenience foods seen in later competitions, but instead call for Pillsbury flour and other pantry ingredients.  My copy is a facsimile printing from 2009.  The pages are nice quality, but the binding is about two page turns away from disintegrating.  I saw an original copy at an estate sale a few months ago, but I decided to leave it for someone else.  I'm kind of regretting that now...

The recipe says it was the Senior Second Prize Winner by Mrs. William Sawdo, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, but it doesn't state what year.  Fortunately with a quick search, Google News tells us that it was 1951.

As an aside, I've often wondered why women had to give up using their first names after they married.  None of the three contestants mentioned in the article has her first name listed, but the woman who awarded the prizes does.  Interesting...

These came together fairly easily.  My first attempt at melting the chocolate resulted in an oily, chunky mess.  The second time around I used cream instead of water and got a more ganache-like mixture.

I don't think I've ever 'marbled' anything before - that was kind of fun!

chambers 90c  range stove

We initially tried these bars while they were still warm, but in my opinion they are much better when completely cooled.  The texture is that of a dense cake and the coconut flavor was more pronounced when cooled.  The chocolate is very "dark chocolate" tasting, which I like, but one of my tasters found it off-putting.  Semi-sweet or milk chocolate might have a wider appeal.

Chocolate Marble Bars (Printable recipe)
from Pillsbury's Best 1000 Recipes: Best of the BAKE-OFF Collection

2 squares unsweetened chocolate (2 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup hot water (or cream)
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup softened butter
3 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coconut

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Grease a 15.5x10x5x1" jellyroll pan or two 9x9x2 inch pans.

Melt the chocolate, 1/4 cup sugar and hot water or cream in a double boiler.   Cool.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Cream together the butter, 1/2 cup sugar and brown sugar.  Add the eggs, milk and vanilla; beat well.  Gradually add the flour mixture and mix well.  Stir in the coconut.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan.  Drizzle chocolate mixture over the batter in a diagonal pattern.  Cut through batter with a knife in opposite direction to give a marbled effect.

Bake at 375F for 25 to 30 minutes. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pecan Date Bars

I found this cookbook a few weeks ago at what was billed as an estate sale, but it was just actually just a store with a collection of junk and old furniture that had been "shabby chic-ed". They did have an interesting assortment of cookbooks, so after perusing them, I ended up coming home with The Gasparilla Cookbook: Favorite Florida West Coast Recipes (compiled by the Junior League of Tampa, 1961). I picked it in part because I liked the pirate-looking man on the front and also because the store owners kept following us around, desperate for a sale.

When I got it home and really looked through it, I found some interesting recipes.  I also discovered after doing some internet searches that it has been beloved by many for decades.  Score for me! 

I needed to make something to take to a potluck and I had a package of dates in the pantry, so I went in search of possibilities and found these bars.

Dates are something I only learned about as an adult and I am making up for all the years I missed out on them by eating them as often as possible.  To me they are like eating brown sugar, but since they are a fruit, I can feel all self-righteous about it. That's right, these bars contain dates, so they are a health food!

This makes a really thick, dense batter that was a little difficult to spread in the two baking dishes.  In my oven at 325F, it took about 40 minutes to bake the batter until firm.  I cut the bars almost immediately after they were out of the oven, but I think it would have been better to let them cool for a bit, since they got less crumbly as they cooled off.  But on a positive note, Farm Boy and I got to sample all the bits that broke off while rolling them in powdered sugar.

chambers stove range

chambers 90c stove range

Verdict: Very nice!  Since these aren't overly sweet or flavored with spices, they have a nice date flavor and a light texture.  They aren't a fancy dessert, but they are perfect as a nice snack to go with coffee.

Pecan Date Bar (Printable Recipe)

from The Gasparilla Cookbook: Favorite Florida West Coast Recipes

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 package pitted dates, cut up fine
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • powdered sugar, for dusting

Cream butter and sugar, add beaten eggs and milk.  To this mixture add the flour, baking powder, dates and nuts.  Beat well and pour into two 10x6-inch well-greased pans.  Bake in a slow oven (325F) until firm, 30 to 40 minutes.  Cut into narrow bars and roll in powdered sugar.