Have you all heard of congo bars? I love blondies just as much as the next gal, but I hadn’t heard of “congo bars” until recently. Basically, they are blondies are steroids. The good kind of steroids, of course. You know, the dosage your doctor gives you so you can recuperate from mono (me in high school) or a concussion (my CCC earlier this year). Because I’m convinced that these bars can wash away all the bad and deliver everything good. They are a classic blondie base, with boatloads (a standard, scientific measurement) of toasted coconut, pecans, and semisweet and white chocolate chips. Basically, they are heavenly and deserve a reserved place in your baking rotation.
For these bars, you will need unsweetened shredded coconut, which I haven’t been able to find in the regular baking section of the grocery store (usually they just have sweetened). I found this bag in the healthy/organic section of my local grocery store, score!
If you choose to toast the coconut and pecans (I would call this optional – it enhances the flavor but it’s not totally necessary), preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and then spread each out on a pan (do these separately) and pop them in the oven, stirring every minute or two, keeping a close eye. I always tend to let my coconut get a tad too dark, so just keep a vigilant eye on it and keep mixing them. Alternatively, you could also toast either one in a dry skillet on the stove over medium-low heat.
So, to sum up: blondies + coconut + pecans + semisweet chocolate chips + white chocolate chips = heavenly deliciousness.
One year ago: Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits
Two years ago: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Three years ago: Grown Up Mac and Cheese[/donotprint]
- 1½ cups (187.5 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- ¾ cup (170.25 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1½ cups (330 g) light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- 1½ cups (139.5 g) unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
- 1 cup (99 g) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup (90 g) semisweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup (90 g) white chocolate chips
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9x13-inch baking pan, then line it with parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang over all the edges.
- 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- 3. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and light brown sugar until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold them into the egg mixture until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the toasted coconut, pecans, semisweet and white chocolate chips. Dump the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth it into an even layer.
- 4. Baking until the top is shiny and cracked and feels firm to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 36 bars and serve. The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days.
- Note: You don't have to toast the coconut or pecans if you don't want to, it just enhances the flavor.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
This is very good. I used all semisweet chocolate chips, I did toast the coconut (but not the pecans) and used dark brown sugar instead of light. Also added 1 tsp coconut extract. Only needed 20 minutes to cook. Texture is great, but would like even more of a coconut flavor, so will add another 1/2 – 1 tsp next time.
This is a completely plagiarized recipe from Cooks Country Illustrated cookbook by Americas Test Kitchen.
very tasty! I used walnuts and coconut which I toasted and used all chocolate chips! delicious! I did have a bit of a hard time knowing when it was done. just kept checking it – came out perfect!
Can you freeze the batter or baked bars?
How long should melted butter cool for before adding eggs
Hi Jillian, Until it is cool to the touch, i.e. room temperature.
What do you think of swapping the pecans for macadamias? :)
Go for it!!
I did! I also used all white chocolate chips and sweetened coconut for a tropical potluck I’m going to tomorrow. So easy and so delicious! I used a foil sling. First time I tried that and it really does simplify things. I cut 24 bars. Yum!!
The taste was great, but mine were too dense. They looked nothing like the Cook’s Illustrated picture. Don’t know where I went wrong.
I made these today and they’re delicious! I left out the pecans and found some unsweetened coconut at a small local market and toasted it easily in a skillet over medium-low heat. (the smell of yummy toasting coconut filled up my whole apartment!) Great snack or dessert!
I made these yesterday & they are AMAZING! My hubby has fallen in love with me all over again. Thanks for sharing & taking the time to tweak things before passing it on to us-your fans.
Hi i abosluetly love your blog and it’s definetly my favourite. I’ve tried your brownie recipe so far which was absolutely amazing and I’m making fish tacos for dinner tonight. As of now I’m currently making the congo bars but I’m not the most intelligent one when it comes to recipes; when you say melted the butter do you mean like liquified or just to like melt them where they are at a creamy consistency and you can mix it around easily? i’m sorry if this question is a little ridiculous
Hi Nona, No need to apologize! Melted butter would mean liquified. Enjoy the bars!
I finally made a batch of these today! OMG! So good. I substituted toasted pumpkin seeds for the pecans, white chocolate chunks for the white chocolate chips and I didn’t toast the coconut. They are amazing. So good. Just like I remember Congo Bars to be and I haven’t had one since 1981! Thank you!
I made these and linked to your site. They were a hit. So yummy.
I love Congo Bars. I never had one until I was in college and they were sold at the snack bar at a local independent film movie theatre. I had one and fell in love. In those days I couldn’t find any recipes for them. Now I can and am so happy. I have to make these. Thanks for bringing back memories.
These look so yummy! Thanks for posting. Any idea on how to adjust for high altitude? I am presuming you aren’t at mine 6800, but if you were, I would be so happy ;)) Thanks again —
Hi Sharon, I am not at high altitude, but I do have some basic information about adapting recipes in the Baking FAQ section of the site.
Love these – they have CHOCOLATE in them! YUM!!!
These remind me of the smooshed up cookies that i’m not afraid to eat. The look great, I can’t wait to try them. Can the pecans be substituted for walnuts?
Yes, absolutely! Walnuts would be a great substitution!
Never heard of these but they sounds delicious!
How much stability do the pecans add. we have allergies so I’m thinking of subing in diced dried prunes…what do you think, not a good idea? Maybe I’ll try both.
You could definitely sub for the pecans, and dried prunes would work. Enjoy!
The congo bar looks delicious!! I’m going to have to try them and see if they are a hit with my family. I bet they will be a must make often. Thanks so much for the recipe. I bake a lot, but always looking for something new to make.
Blondies have always been close to my heart, and this loaded version is causing some serious swooning over here – need these now!
muuu that rich, I love your blog, yet I have sooooo many things.
photography is amazing. great job.
Muchas gracias por todo y besos desde España.
kisses from Spain.
Congo bars! I had completely forgotten about them. Grew up eating them … soooo deliciouis.
I made these with butterscotch chips instead of the white chocolate chips. So rich and yummy! Thanks for the recipe.
Like you, I love blondies! I have never heard of congo bars either, but since I love blondies and coconut, these sound amazing!
I had congo bars that were a chocolate cookie crumb base, but as thick as a brownie, made into a seven layer bar on top–they were fantastic.
I’ve never heard of congo bars before, and I really want to try them now! Thanks for the awesome recipe.
So these are in the oven as we speak..Thanks for the great recipe!
Believe it or not, I just tried a congo bar today! The lovely lady gave me her recipe so I can blog it….they are AMAZING!
Oh my goodness these look so amazing. I have not heard of them before. Going on the must try list. So many of your recipes go on my list. You rock!
wow these looks great! I love the combination of coconut and white chocolate chips, my faves!
I’ve never had these…they sound delish!
When I read the name of this recipe I immediately had to say it out loud! Looks delicious! This has made it to the top 5 on my to-do list!
Those look great. I love cocnut.
My grandmother used to make the best Congo Bars, but she never wrote down a recipe! For that or her apple pie, the stinker. I’ve been trying recipes for years trying to come close…just love them.
My Grandma makes these all the time! They are one of my faves! Yours look super tasty!
I generally think toasting coconut for recipes like this really makes quite a difference. This does indeed look like blondies on steroids
Well, I think this is my first encounter with Congo Bars. :)
How dreamy! These look and sound amazing! Must get more coconut so I can make these this weekend!
I have heard of them before but somehow have never made them or had one. So I’m not sure why I know what they are haha. But they sound great.
I love everything that’s in this cookie bar. We’ll be making this soon, thank you for the recipe. Do you think I can add crushed pineapple too?
Hi Ela, Crushed pineapple sounds delicious! It would definitely affect the texture, making them really moist, so you might need to adjust the eggs. Let me know if you try it!
Isn’t it amazing how much we bake and then realize we’ve overlooked a traditional, tried and true treat like these? I’m looking forward to trying your version! Thank for sharing!
This was always the staple cookie growing up at our house, I love these! I’ve never had them with coconut in them though! I’ll have to try that!
I read this “There is a small chance that sweetened might be slightly too sweet in a recipe that calls for unsweetened, but the sweetened coconut is not so sweet on its own that it should really throw off a recipe in that way” when googling sweetened coconut.
Thanks for the tip about looking in the organic section of the store. Also, I would think if you have an “international” section in a store, you might find unsweetened there for Asian or Indian foods.
If I would use sweetened coconut, can adjustments be made elsewhere (w/brown sugar)? Did you get the unsweetened stuff at G. Eagle?
Hi Michele! If you use sweetened you would probably want to cut back on the sugar, but I haven’t experimented with that yet, so couldn’t say for sure how much. I did get the unsweetened at Giant Eagle – in their organic/specialty food section near the produce.
Would love a bite of heavenly deliciousness ;-)
I have been wanting to try these for so long but haven’t made…mainly because I am scared of their deliciousness!
I could use a dose of steroids right now – or maybe this bars will do the trick.
And I agree, a boatload is a perfectly scientific measurement.
I love a chewy bar (and chewy cookies) and these look like something I could really sink my teeth into! I’m also loving the packaging on that organic coconut…wish all manufacturers would tell you right on the package exactly how many cups their product contains!
These sound lovely! Yum!
Pure heaven right there. Ive seen these bars around for a while but they somehow slipped out of my mind (actually thats not hard to do to be fair..) So im very grateful you reminded me of these lovelies! :)
Wow, these look like they are full of deliciousness. I can’t wait to make them!
I knew there was a good reason why I accidentally stumbled onto your blog. I’ve been promising myself for months that I would make congo bars. I buy them at the Nordstroms Cafe in Costa Mesa (South Coast Plaza) and they are yummy. I opened up a bag of sweetened coconut last weekend to make tres leches cake and thought maybe this is the time to tackle the congo bars. I’ll have to adjust the sugar, but I think I can work it out. I’m going for it! Thanks for sharing!
My mom used to make these when I was a child…I loved them, maybe more than brownies….Somewhere along the way, my mother thought that “Congo” bars had a politically incorrect flavor to it, and changed the name in our family to “Congoleum” bars–giving the excuse that with all the different colors/textures of ingredients, on the cut edges they looked kind of like some ’70’s variety of vinyl flooring….
These look so good. The middle looks so moist and delicious. The coconut, pecans and chocolate chips are such a great match.
These are a lot like dream bars but with nuts. They sound absolutely fantastic! Cannot make these until I have somewhere to bring them, though. If they’re anything like dreambars, they’re dangerous even in the freezer!