Saturday, March 22, 2008

coconut pecan dream bars

There is this guy I used to work with - we used to get Barbecue for lunch (there's only one Barbecue when you work in West Newton, MA, and that's Blue Ribbon). He was the first to discover the Dream Bar. The Dream Bar was very sweet and just a bit over the top, smothered in coconut, chocolate, and nuts. I don't think either of us cared for its taste all that much, but we liked it for its name..."Dream Bar".

I wonder how Dream Bar got such a very special name, when it sat alongside such plain-sounding desserts as "Sweet Potato Pie" and "Fruit Cobbler". The Dream Bar. What fun, what promise of hope! It was anything you wanted it to be.

I made a Dream Bar of sorts recently, with inspiration from Gourmet (December 1996). This version is slightly less sweet.

Coconut Pecan Dream Bars
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Brownie Layer:
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F and butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.

Make topping:
In a 1 1/2-quart bowl stir together topping ingredients until combined well.

Make brownie layer:
In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat. Remove pan from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition. In a bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and stir into butter mixture until just combined well.

Spread batter evenly in pan and sprinkle with topping. Bake brownies in middle of oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it. Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack before cutting into 16 squares. Brownies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container at cool room temperature, 5 days.