Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Bar of Cleveland

The other day, my husband and I went to Solly's Deli to celebrate a milestone.  It was the first day of Kindergarten for my sweet twins.  To celebrate I tried to order a "Cleveland Bar" for dessert, as mentioned in the post Day of Atonement, Night of Plenty, and to my chagrin (falls) they no longer carry them!  Cost cutting they say.  Cleveland Bars, or as we say in Cleveland, Coconut Bars, are why I go to Solly's.  I have to say that they are clearly going downhill.  Our Turkey Pastrami Reuben had only Turkey, not Pastrami-ed Turkey.  Our fries were not curly or skinny, but plain old Steak Fries.  I am pretty sure I was drinking Diet Pepsi, not Diet Coke.  Why should I go back?  And furthermore, where am I to find Coconut Bars!?
I needed a fix so I did what any self sufficient Cleavlander would do... I made them myself.
I found a guide at Rosa Raskin's Cooking Blog, Precious Cooking.  Here is a link to her fabulous post: Precious Cooking, Coconut Bars

Turns out, coconut bars are surprisingly simple.
You make a vanilla or yellow cake (box variety is fine), cut them into squares,
Roll the bars into slightly watered down Hershey's Syrup, and then roll them in coconut.

The hardest part is keeping the outer coconut from getting "dirty" from the chocolate sauce as they are rolled.

Here is the recipe:
For the Cake I used a modified Vanilla Cupcake recipe from the Hello, Cupcake! recipe book.

2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Stick (8 TBSP) Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs

Let eggs and butter sit out to warm up a bit before you begin.
Preheat Oven to 350°.
Spray Oil  (Pam) or Butter the bottom of two 8" Square baking dishes, then coat lightly with flour.
Whisk together Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt in a medium bowl.
Combine the Milk, Oil, and Vanilla Extract in a large cup or small bowl.
In another medium sized bowl or in a mixer bowl, with an electric mixer set to medium, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the Eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternatively with the milk mixture in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until just blended.
Split the batter among the cake pans and smooth down with a rubber cake spatula.
Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the pans to cool completely on a wire rack.

To finish as Coconut Bars:
In small glass bowl or larger Pyrex measuring cup,
mix 1 1/2 cups - 2 cups of Hershey's Syrup with a few Tablespoons of Water.

On a plate, spread out shredded coconut.

With one hand (and a fork) dip the cake bars in the chocolate mix.
With the other hand, roll the coated cake bars in the coconut trying to keep the coconut clean.

Place on a plate or platter, rinse hands if needed and repeat until the bars are done.

I found it good to add clean coconut as I went and also noticed that the chocolate sauce got cake debris towards the end, so splitting the chocolate sauce batch might also be a good idea.

Make them now and enjoy your taste of Cleveland!


The Dodo said...

Did you know: These are actually an Australian dessert called "Lamingtons" that were (I have absolutely no idea just when or why) adopted by Clevelanders some time ago. Aren't they fun? And delicious? Though we Aussies make the chocolate sauce from scratch..

Rosa Raskin, M.S., M.L.S. said...

Glad you enjoyed the coconut
bars (Cleveland bars) they started me on the path to writing a cookbook. I have seen a coconut bar wedding cake and have frosted the entire cake with the chocolte syrup and coconut, fantastic!


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