This recipe for coconut almond macaroon bars is the convergence of two wonderful pieces of my childhood: Girl Scout cookies and Hershey’s chocolate. I was a Girl Scout for a few years, like pretty much everyone else my age. I never liked selling the cookies, but I sure loved eatin ‘em. Samoas (aka Caramel deLites) were always my favorite. Chewy, sweet coconut cookies with ribbons of hard chocolate streaked over the top. Luckily, my sister liked Thin Mints and Tagalongs best, making this one of only a handful of things we didn’t bicker about.
Hershey’s chocolate has a special place in my heart because my dad worked for the company for 25 years. This meant a few things for my sister and me: Halloween was our most popular season, since my parents always gave out king-size Hershey, Kit-Kat and Reese’s bars; and every few months, we’d get to tag along with Dad to the office on a Saturday (it didn’t dawn on me till later that working on a Saturday is not something to be happy about), where we’d get free rein of The Walk-In Chocolate Closet. This was pure, giddy heaven for a couple of 8- and 9-year-olds. We’d take turns racing into the chilled storage room, filling our arms with old favorites like Whatchamacallits for me and Reese’s peanut butter cups for Mad, along with flavors that were still being tested, like Nutrageous and Hugs.
I’m not much of a dessert person nowadays, but I can always save room for a good piece of dark chocolate, which just so happens to be the topping on these dense, chewy bars reminiscent of the best parts of being a little kid.
Ironically, there were no Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate chips to be found at the crumbly Jewel down the street from my work when I was buying the ingredients for the bars, so I settled for Ghirardelli. Sorry, Dad.
Coconut almond macaroon bars
3 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (I crushed chocolate wafers in a big freezer bag)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk
5 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 3/4 cups toasted almond slices, divided
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup whipping cream
Method: Heat oven to 350F. Line a 12- by 18-inch half sheet pan or 9- by 9-inch pyrex baking dish (for thicker bars) with parchment or lightly grease.
Combine cookie crumbs, melted butter and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Firmly press crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Stir together sweetened condensed milk, coconut flakes and 1 1/2 cups of the almond slices in a large bowl, mixing well. Carefully drop the mixture in heaping spoonfuls over the crust; spread evenly.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until coconut edges just begin to brown. Cool.
Place chocolate chips and whipping cream in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes, then stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth when stirred.
Cool until the ganache has slightly thickened, and spread over the cooled bars. Sprinkle the remaining almond slices over the top.
Cover, and refrigerate for several hours, or until thoroughly chilled. Cut into bars.
Makes 16 to 24 bars, depending on the pan size.