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Caribbean Coco-Almond Bars

Caribbean Coco-Almond BarsA festive layered bar bursting with typical Caribbean flavors like cinnamon, coconut and rum.

Recipe Ingredients:

Cookie Crust:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup toasted and finely chopped almonds (about 3 ounces)*
1 tablespoon dark rum**

Coconut Filling:
1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut***
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum**
1/4 teaspoons salt

Chocolate Layer:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cocoa), chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream or evaporated milk
Additional 1 cup shredded coconut and/or sliced almonds

Cooking Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line an 8x8-inch square pan with heavy-duty foil that extends over edges of pan; butter foil.
  2. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade or in a large bowl with a pastry blender, combine first 5 ingredients; add butter in small intervals while mixing until texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add nuts and rum; blend.
  3. Press dough firmly and evenly into pan. Bake until crust deflates (it will puff at first) and edges are barely firm to touch, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly on wire rack.
  4. As crust cools, blend filling ingredients together in a bowl. When crust is firm and still warm, spoon on filling; spread evenly. Return pan to oven and bake until edges turn golden, about 15 minutes. Remove and cool in pan on wire rack.
  5. Make chocolate layer by combining all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat or microwave-safe bowl. Heat (in 30 second intervals, if in microwave) while whisking until melted and smooth. Pour hot topping over filling; spread evenly. If desired, sprinkle coconut and/or almonds evenly over top while chocolate layer is still hot.
  6. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before bringing to room temperature and cutting into bars.

Makes 16 bars.

*To toast almonds, place nuts in a single layer in an ungreased shallow pan. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pan to cool.

**Fruit juice (such as pineapple or orange juice) may be substituted for the dark rum.

***Unsweetened coconut can be found at many specialty and health food stores.

Recipe and photograph provided courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.