I've watched it happen with this one over and over again. My mother has been making these my whole life, and I've watched relatives gobble them up, friends embarrass themselves, and brothers-in-law swear they've only had two (not five) when they go for the last one. And it's not just a Boston thing: I swear there are still people in England who know me only as So-and-so's friend who brought those…things…to that party that time.
This weekend I was invited to a barbeque, and asked to bring a dessert, so I tried these out on an Australian contingent: partly because the recipe was about all I had the mental energy for, and partly out of curiosity to see if I would get the same reaction.
The result: the only reason I had those two available for picture-taking is because they wouldn't fit in the container that I took to the party.
Please try these and tell me if you get the same reaction. I'm always looking to broaden my data sample on just what it is about this recipe that drives people crazy.
Adapted from Rosie's Bakery All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book
My mother's recipe uses Crisco, but I've found English and Australian vegetable shortening to be quite different in texture and density, and producing different results when used in baking. So I hunted down this version that uses butter, and now I like it even better, if that's possible. (Oh, and no, I don't know why they're called congo bars either. If you do, please enlighten us.)
1 1/3/280 g cups plain/all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
9 Tbsp (1 stick + 1 Tbsp)/125 g butter, softened
1 ¾ cups/350 g light brown sugar*
1 ¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup/120 g semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup/60 g coconut
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease an 8 in x 8 in/20 cm x 20 cm square baking pan.
Blend dry ingredients and set aside.
With an electric mixer on medium, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add eggs, mix on high briefly (about 3-5 seconds), then on medium until well blended (about 7-10 seconds).
Add dry ingredients and mix on low until combined (8-10 seconds).
Fold in chocolate and coconut until thoroughly mixed through. Spread evenly in baking pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, or until it has a rich golden crust and the center has sunk. Cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 25 1-inch bars.
* I use whatever kind of brown sugar I have on hand. It changes the texture somewhat, but they're pretty much always good.