My family and I went to my parents' home in Wisconsin this past May to celebrate their 50th anniversary. My brothers, sisters-in-law, and I joined forces to throw them a big open house at the farm. Mom and dad built a big home designed for entertaining. There's a roomy kitchen with a big deck attached. And the house has a huge great room with floor to ceiling windows that offer an unbelievable view. It's up on a high hill, and you can see the valleys below for miles. What a great place for a gathering! We all cooked for days: pulled pork, baked beans, slaw, marinated cucumbers and tomatoes, Greek pasta salad, and lots of bars for dessert. We were expecting a crowd of relatives, neighbors, and friends from church. The day of the party came, and a lovely friend of the family named Lucille brought over a large container of homemade bars to contribute- a very sweet gesture! The bars - her signature Mounds Bar recipe which appeared in a church cookbook printed while I was still a kid - were so incredibly delicious that Angie, Monica (my sisters-in-law) and I seriously considered hiding them and keeping them for ourselves! But since 130 of Mom and Dad's closest friends and family showed up, that wasn't really an option.
|Mom and Dad's house on the hill|
This is my version of those bars. I've replaced the graham cracker crust with a crust made from crushed pretzels, because I like the salty contrast with the rich filling and chocolate topping.
2 cups pretzel sticks
3/4 cup flour
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
12 oz dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Place pretzels in a food processor and pulse until they become fine crumbs. Add flour and melted butter and pulse until mixture is well combined. Press pretzel mixture into a greased 9x13 pan, making sure is well compressed. Bake crust in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Mix sweetened condensed milk, coconut, and vanilla. Spread the coconut mixture over the pretzel crust and return to the oven for 12-15 minutes. Be careful that the coconut layer does not brown. Cool the pan completely. Melt the chocolate chips and cream in a sauce pan over low heat or in a double boiler. Spread the melted chocolate in an even layer over the bars. Cool the bars in a refrigerator until set before cutting into squares.
To make Almond Joy Bars, simply add 1/2 cup of toasted chopped almonds to the coconut mixture.