Thursday, January 16, 2014
Chocolate Coconut Almond Revel Bars & a Hershey's Spreadable Chocolate GIVEAWAY!
Oh jeez, we're barely into 2014, we just finished baking up a storm of holiday cookies only a few weeks ago, and here I am bringing you MORE cookies? I know, I can barely believe it myself. As soon as Christmas ended I promised myself that I would take a long detox from cookie baking for a while, as I was seriously all cookied-out. I don't really know how many dozens of cookies I made, but just trust me when I say that it was a lot. Because of that, I'm just as surprised as you are that I'm already posting a brand new bar cookie recipe. At least this new cookie addition to the blog is a really, really, really good one. Here's a quick summary of the ingredients: coconut + oats + HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE ALMOND SPREAD.
Now that we're in part three of my Hershey's Chocolate Spreads exploration, you may have picked up on the fact that out of the three flavors, the Chocolate-Almond spread is my favorite. I won't go into all the reasons why in this post (just go here and here if you need your memory refreshed!), because there are other more important things to discuss, like these Chocolate Coconut Almond Revel Bars. I loved snacking on all the spreads and using them as dips, but when the time came to actually incorporate the spreads in a real recipe, I was a bit lost. Lost in a good way, I mean. I just had too many ideas and narrowing them down to one really great idea seemed impossible. I was torn between swirling the spreads into waffles and ice cream, or creating an intense chocolate Bundt cake with a molten chocolate center, among others. All that changed once I stumbled upon a confection known as a "revel bar." I'd never heard of a revel bar until a few days ago, but I instantly knew they would be a bar cookie that I would love. A revel bar is basically oatmeal cookie dough sandwiching a middle layer of chocolatey fudge. Sounds too good to be true, right? As soon as I discovered revel bars, the foodie gears in my brain started turning and I just knew this was what I had to make.
These revel bars are certainly not traditional revel bars, but that's besides the point. The fundamental revel bar elements are still present in my version (oatmeal cookie dough outer layers + chocolately interior), but I've kicked up the flavors just a bit by adding some shredded coconut and of course, Hershey's chocolate almond spread. I was pretty confident that the flavors would pair nicely together, because I love oatmeal and chocolate cookies, and chocolate-coconut treats are some of my favorites. The bars come together pretty easily. You start out by making the oatmeal cookie dough base, which is really no different than making any other cookie. The cookie dough has tons of oats and coconut stirred in, and the brown sugar gives the cookie dough a nice deep caramel undertone and keeps the cookie nice and moist. A portion of the cookie dough gets pressed into a baking pan, and then it's time to make the chocolate center. Hershey's chocolate almond spread gets mixed with a little butter and sweetened condensed milk to create a fudgey spread that completely covers the first layer of cookie dough. The remaining cookie dough then gets crumbled on top of the chocolatey fudge, and is finished off with a sprinkling of shredded coconut. Seriously, this is some good stuff.
These revel bars were a fantastic option to make using Hershey's spreads. I loved how the subtle almond flavor in the chocolate spread paired so nicely with the coconut and oatmeal cookie dough. If you're pressed for time, or are just feeling a bit lazy (it happens to me too), I'm sure that simply spreading a good amount of the chocolate spread on its own would be a delicious alternative to creating the fudge layer. Of course, these bars can be made with any of Hershey's chocolate spreads, which would then be a great jumping off point for creating new flavor combinations for the revel bars. If I were to make these with the plain chocolate spread, I would definitely either add some chopped walnuts to the top of the bars, or incorporate some peanut butter into the middle layer. Another really great idea that I was wrestling with before settling on the coconut version was to add a layer of raspberry preserves right below the chocolate layer. I thought it would add an unexpected dimension to the bars, and I've already made a mental note to try this idea out the next time I find myself making some revel bars. These revel bars are pretty sweet, but I'd imagine that they go perfectly with a tall glass of cold milk (I don't drink milk, so this is purely an assumption based on years of observing the cookies with milk phenomenon). These bar cookies are great at room temperature, but are even better eaten chilled from the fridge. The chocolate layer stays gooey and the cookie layers remained perfectly moist. In sum, these bar cookies were awesome, and are a great way to incorporate Hershey's chocolate spreads in your baking routine!
Aaand now it's time for some GIVEAWAY news! Hershey's is nice enough to sponsor a giveaway right here for the readers of Ambrosia! If you'd like to receive all three of Hershey's really awesome chocolate spreads, along with some great snacks to pair with the spreads, simply enter your email address using the form below and that will count as one entry. Then, you'll get another three bonus entries via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! Easy enough right? One lucky reader is sure gonna get a yummy package in their mail! This contest is available to US residents only. Good luck!
Chocolate Coconut Almond Revel Bars
inspired by Baking Bites
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup quick oats
1 cup shredded coconut, divided
1 cup Hershey's chocolate almond spread
3/4 cup condensed milk
Begin by positioning an oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line a 9x9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and parchment paper, leaving a two-inch paper overhang on all sides.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 7 tablespoons of the butter with both sugars, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract, mixing until combined, and then stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in the quick oats and 3/4 cup of shredded coconut.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the Hershey's chocolate almond spread, condensed milk, and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds, stirring until smooth. The mixture won't be completely smooth, but will come together.
To assemble the bars, scoop out about 1 1/2 cups of the oatmeal cookie dough into the prepared pan, and spread it into an even layer. This is easiest to do if you break up the cookie dough into small bits and scatter them evenly throughout the pan, rather than attempting to create an even layer directly from the middle. Use a measuring cup that's been sprayed with a little nonstick spray on the bottom to press the cookie dough down and to help ensure that you get an even layer. Pour the chocolate spread mixture directly over the top of the cookie dough, and spread evenly over the cookie dough. Take the remaining cookie dough, and crumble over the top to create the final layer. Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup shredded coconut over the top of the crumbled cookie dough.
Bake the cookie bars for 25 minutes. The chocolate spread may look wet and bubbly, but the cookie dough is cooked. Allow the cookie bars to cool completely to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for an hour or so, just so that the chocolate layer has firmed up a bit. Slice into 16 squares using a sharp knife, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!
Makes 16 squares
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by Hershey's Chocolate as a part of their #spreadpossibilities campaign. I have received compensation and product samples, but all opinions and thoughts are my own.