Baked Sunday Mornings: Baked Bars

Looking at the list of ingredients for this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe made it obvious why the gentleman bakers call their Baked Bars "a kitchen-sink extravaganza." Graham cracker crumbs! Coconut! Walnuts! Semisweet chocolate! White chocolate! Butterscotch chips! Condensed milk! What isn't in these bars?! Even though I know bars of this type are popular, I have never made them before.

The crust is a mixture of graham cracker crumbs, toasted sweetened coconut, and melted butter. You press the crust into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan, chill it briefly, bake until golden, and let it cool completely. Then you sprinkle on toasted chopped walnuts, semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips. I used caramelized white chocolate pistoles instead of butterscotch chips and 70% chocolate pistoles instead of semisweet -- I thought that the bitterness would help balance out the sweetness of the bars. Finally, you just pour condensed milk over the nuts and chocolate and bake.
I baked the bars for 35 minutes, until they were, as they recipe specified, "golden brown and bubbly." The milk was bubbling vigorously around the edges of the bar. I put the pan of bars on a wire rack to cool and left it out overnight on the kitchen counter. The following morning when I tried to cut the bars, condensed milk came pouring out. I was expecting the bars to be a bit gooey, but these were clearly undercooked. Puddles of milk were accumulating everywhere, including between the underside of the crust and the sheet of parchment paper I had used to line the pan. I decided that I couldn't serve the bars because they were just too messy.

I put the bars in the fridge for a day and it helped a little with the seeping milk problem, but the bars clearly just needed more time in the oven. The bars in the photo above -- which are way bigger than the size I would cut if I was actually serving them to someone -- are the cleanest ones I could get. As messy as they were, the bars were delicious. My favorite part was the crust, which was fantastic, although it did get lose its crunch after the first day. While my bars were not successful, I would still recommend them -- but only if fully cooked!

Recipe: "Baked Bars" from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.