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Friday, December 09, 2016

Coconut Delights. . . Homemade Chocolate Bars


Coconut Delights are aptly named as they are a real delight for coconut lovers.  Coconut, fruit and nuts are mixed together in a candy syrup and then dipped in chocolate for a tasty homemade confection.  These make a wonderful holiday treat for the family and if you get really proficient in making these bars, they make a great gift from your kitchen.

Mom was a great hand at collecting cookbooks.  She seldom made anything from them, prefering to make her own tried and true recipes mostly inherited from her mother or sisters.  But she did love buying cookbooks and I loved looking through them.  Most of the books were soft covered books bought from the bargain bins at Woolworths or the old Arcade Store in St. John's.  Every now and then there would actually be a great recipe in these books and I've made several of them since starting this blog.(Sugared Orange Yeast Raised Doughnuts, Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pie with Chocolate Coconut Crust, Eggs and Potatoes with Sour Cream) I wish Mom was around to try them out.  This coconut chocolate bar (same as a candy bar in other countries) is one of those gems.  

Coconut Delights is a recipe found in the Candy Cookbook by J. H. DeGros.  This is almost a textbook on candy making for the serious amature confectioner and not someone like me who likes to dabble about with a few simple candy recipes at holiday times.  As I was browsing through the book I spied this recipe and thought it looked quite easy to make except the original recipe makes four times the amount I have posted.  That's enough to make 50-60 chocolate bars!  As I'm not going into the candy making business I scaled the recipe down to a more manageable amount for the casual candy maker.

The hardest part of the recipe is dipping the bars in chocolate.  The recipe called for tempered chocolate which is a fairly tricky and expensive procedure for the inexperienced amature.  If you'd like to try tempering chocolate there are dozens and dozens and dozens of websites and videos giving detailed instructions.  I've included three links down below in the instructions for melting the chocolate.  I did attempt to temper my chocolate but didn't succed but the bars taste just as good and I've been bold enough to give a few away to the boys for Christmas.  For the ordinary home cook like myself a bag of melted chocolate chips will give a decent finish to the bars.  You will have to keep the bar refrigerated so the chocolate will stay hard but that's not a hardship. 

The only special equipment you'll need is a candy thermometer.  If you don't have one, I'd recommend buying one as it will come in handy for many things during the years.  It takes the guess work out of making even a simple fudge recipe.  You can buy one at Walmart for about $12-$20, depending on how fancy you want.  Mine was about $12 and is quite adequate for my needs.

Coconut Delights
2 cups unsweetened fine or medium cut coconut
½ cup chopped candied (glacĂ©) cherries
½ cup chopped golden raisins
¾ cup chopped toasted pecans

Place the coconut, fruit and nuts in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Set aside.

¾ cup corn syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water

1 bag chocolate chips, melted for dipping
1-2 tablespoons shortening, oil or coconut oil, optional

Prepare and 8x8-inch square pan by greasing and lining with greased parchment paper. Let the paper hang over the sides for easy removal.

Combine corn syrup, sugar and water together in a medium sized saucepan and cook over medium low heat to 236 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Stir the mixture until sugar has dissolved and then continue boiling until the temperature reaches 236 degrees. 

Once temperature has been reached immediately remove from the heat and pour cooked syrup over the fruit and nut mixture and mix very thoroughly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. DO NOT USE YOUR HANDS AS THE MIXTURE IS SCALDING HOT

Scrape the mixture into the prepared 8x8-inch square baking pan.  Pack the mixture in and smooth the top.  Let cool thoroughly before cutting into bars. You may leave the bars in the pan overnight if you wish. 

Once cooled, lift the bar mixture from the pan and cut into 1x4-inch bars or 1½ x4-inch for fatter bars.  Turn bars upside down to dry.  Let dry 3 or 4 hours.  I let mine dry as long as over night and they have not dried out too much.  

Dip the bars in melted chocolate and let set until hard enough to wrap. 

A simple double boiler: bowl over simmering water.
To Melt the Chocolate: You may use any good chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.  Chocolate will scorch if melted over too high a heat.  Milk or white chocolate must be melted over very low heat as they will scorch quicker than the semi-sweet or dark.  I like to melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. You can see my  simple double boiler: bowl over simmering water.  Do not let the bowl touch the top of the water and don't boil the water, just let it simmer.  Stir the chocolate occasionally to help with the melting process. If using chocolate chips a small amount of shortening, oil or coconut oil may be added so the chocolate will flow better when coating.

If you wish to temper the chocolate, use a good quality chocolate (I use chocolate bars) not chocolate chips.  Bring the temperature of the melted chocolate up to 120 degrees and then while stirring cool below 90 degrees. (Click on the links for detailed instructions.)  This will give you a good hard chocolate surface that dries in just a few minutes.  Here are two good videos on chocolate tempering:  Chocolate-Dipped Anything or if you don't have a thermometer: An Easier Way to Temper Chocolate. Also ABasic Guide to Tempering Chocolate can be found on the King Arthur Flour website.

If you use melted chocolate chips, set the bars in the refrigerator to set.  Unless you have tempered the chocolate, store the bars in the refrigerator.  The bars may also be rolled in toasted coconut.  Let the bars set or ripen 3 days before eating (if you can).

Makes about 16 bars, 1x4-inch each.


Mix the coconut, cherries, raisins and nuts together and lay aside until ready to use in recipe.

Bring the sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil over medium low heat.  Stir the mixture only until the sugar dissolves.  Bring the mixture up to 236 degrees.  Immediately remove from the heat.

Pour the hot syrup over the mixed coconut, fruit and nuts and mix well with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.  Do not use your hands as the syrup is scalding hot.

Prepare an 8x8-inch pan. Grease both the pan and the parchment paper.

Pack the bar mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth the top.  I used the bottom of a measuring cup.  Let the mixture cool in the pan.  I left mine in the pan overnight but that is not necessary.  Lift the cold mixture out of the pan by using the edges of the parchment as handles.

When completely cold, cut into 1x4-inch or 1½ x4-inch bars. 

To make clean cuts, dip the knife in hot water and wipe dry.  Do this for every cut and you will avoid messy bars.

Let the cut bars dry for 3 to 4 hours.  I had to leave mine overnight so I covered them with a clean tea towel.  I cut some bars 1½ inches wide and some 1 inch wide.  I like the 1-inch bars best.

When the bars are dry dip them in melted chocolate.  As you can see dipping the bars is messy work!  This is my attempt at tempered chocolate but it would be just as messy with melted chocolate chips, ha, ha.  I tried to dip using a fork but the bars were too floppy so the hand was the best thing to use.  

Lay the dipped bars on parchment paper for ease of removal.  If you have successfully tempered the chocolate, the bars will set at a cool room temperature.  If you have used chocolate chips you may want to put them in the refrigerator to hasten the chocolate setting.

If you look carefully you can see some streaking on the set chocolate.  This is because I did not achieve a good temper on the chocolate.  This causes the cocoa butter to separate from the chocolate and causes streaking.  The chocolate is perfectly good to eat but does not look as good as a shiny tempered finish.

Let the bars ripen three days.  I don't think I've ever eaten a three day old bar, ha, ha.  They taste good Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and every day!

I got busy and wrapped the bars in foil and made cute little wrappers with my printer.  

For a nice presentation I stacked the wrapped bar into a wooden tray.

Mmmmm.....have a bite of a Coconut Delight.

A delightful homemade coconut chocolate bar.


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