Thai class. Learning to speak Thai has been, in a word, humbling. The Thai language continues to elude me, but seeing as I do live here, I’m not giving up any time soon. I was sitting in my language class this week, feeling utterly lost, and craving chocolate.
Because isn’t chocolate an obvious solution for most ails?
It’s entirely my own doing that I equate a difficult Thai class with dessert. When we had just moved to Bangkok I was in a Thai class of expats from all over the world. There was a car wash owner from France, a DJ from Norway, a teacher from Egypt, and a Canadian author. In my months in that class, we were never able to communicate all that effectively in Thai, so we gravitated towards whatever amount of English we could each speak (lucky for me).
We communicated in spotty English and in the universal language of desserts. I baked often for that class, and when I opened a container of cookies or brownies in our small, sunny classroom, we didn’t have to speak at all to share them.
So last week I shored up for the coming weeks of Thai class, and I baked these bars. They are made with coconut flour which makes them gluten-free and turns the base into a soft, almost fudgy cookie with a faint hint of coconut flavor. The topping couldn’t be simpler – just chocolate chips and coconut flakes with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. The whole thing gets toasty in the oven for a bit of crunch, but retains a creamy, sweet quality as well.
They might shore me up for a few more weeks of Thai.
Creamy Chocolate Coconut Layer Bars
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 4 eggs
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 and 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 and 1/4 cups shredded coconut (see note)
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 baking dish with butter and line with parchment paper so that a bit of the parchment paper is hanging over the sides (this will makes it very easy to pull the bars out in one piece when they finish baking).
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, light brown sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter, eggs and almond extract all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it with the spoon until it evenly lines the bottom of the pan. Bake until it just begins to set, 8 minutes.
- Remove the crust from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Sprinkle the shredded coconut evenly over the chocolate chips. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk in even stripes across the coconut.
- Return the bars to the oven and bake just until the coconut is golden brown, 13-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.
- These can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
I’ve got my eye on gluten-free bars and cakes of late – here are a few that have been tempting me:
Gluten-free Dee-luxe Coffeecake by The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking (I love everything about Kate’s blog, but the thick, sticky topping of this coffeecake is downright irresistable)
Paleo Chocolate Coconut Slice by Claire K Creations (my friend Claire is a magician when it comes to turning coconut flour into baked treats – these look particularly delicious)
Gluten-Free Lemon Bars by Elizabeth Barbone via Serious Eats (whether we eat gluten or not, I think we should all be making these lemon bars)
Gluten-free Brownies by Gluten-Free Girl (she’s the best, so you know these are good)