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I'm very excited about sharing my second guest post today! Not only do I get to spend some time with all of you, but I also get to feature two of my all time favorite foods — dark chocolate and coconut — in these amazing dark chocolate coconut bars!
I have always been a big fan of chocolate, but even as a child I preferred dark chocolate to milk chocolate.
I love the deep, rich cocoa flavors that come through in dark chocolate. Reminiscent of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee and sometimes with a hint of nuttiness, my favorites are 85-90% cocoa and leave a slight bitter taste in your mouth.
Of course, I love dark chocolate as a treat on its own or in a dessert such as this one, but I also love using cocoa in savory dishes, taking advantage of the above mentioned characteristics.
And then there is coconut (which is magnified by the addition of chocolate in these dark chocolate coconut bars!). So good and so good for you! I could go on and on about the goodness of coconut – I mean seriously, I not only eat a ton of it, I use it on my hair and skin too! I'll give you just a few of my favorite characteristics of coconut:
First, coconut oil is a great source of medium chain triglycerides or MCTs. The body processes MCTs differently than other fats. MCTs are absorbed in the small intestine and sent straight to the liver, bypassing the need for pancreatic enzymes or bile to digest them. The liver then converts MCTs into useable energy. This makes coconut a great choice for people that may have a little trouble in the digestive department.
Second, coconut oil is also high in lauric acid (found in large concentrations in human breast milk). Lauric acid is known for it's anti-micobial, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties.
Lastly, coconut oil is a type of saturated fat that is stable at high heats, making it great for sautéing or pan frying.
If you want to know everything there is to know about coconut, please check out Jessica's Coconut Oil page.
This dark chocolate coconut bars recipe makes use of three forms of coconut: coconut oil, coconut butter (also known as coconut cream concentrate), and finely shredded coconut. The coconut oil lends a silkiness to the bars, the coconut butter gives some creaminess, and the shredded coconut adds some nice texture.
Quick note about “coconut cream concentrate” and “coconut butter”, since I get asked this all the time.
Whenever I refer to those two terms in my recipes, it means the product that is super finely ground coconut meat, which has a consistency similar to a nut butter. It's not referring to coconut milk or coconut cream (the liquid beverage-type products), and it's not referring to those vegan “butters” that often use coconut oil in them.
You cannot substitute dairy butter for coconut butter, nor can you substitute coconut oil for coconut butter.
Please read this post where I discuss all the differences between coconut products in an effort to clear up the confusion that is circulating around the Web.
Where To Buy Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars
Vitacost (an affiliate partner), has really good prices on some of the ingredients in this recipe. If you sign up through this link, you’ll get a coupon for $10 off your first purchase from Vitacost, and when your order ships, I’ll get a $10 off coupon for referring you.
Amazon, of course, has everything you need for this recipe. Their prices are often very good, though I love to shop around and sometimes find that Vitacost and Thrive Market have better deals. If you like saving money, it's good to shop around! 🙂
In addition, Tropical Traditions (another affiliate partner) carries the best coconut products and if you make a purchase from them through any of my links, you will receive a free copy of their Virgin Coconut Oil book, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.
- Place ¾ cup of coconut oil and ¼ cup of coconut butter in a small saucepan and warm until melted.
- Remove from the heat and add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla, stirring well to combine.
- Add in the 2 cups of shredded coconut and mix well.
- Pour the coconut mixture into an 8×8 baking dish and spread it out evenly.
- Chill in the refrigerator until firm (this will take at least one hour).
- Once the coconut layer has completely chilled and hardened, it's time to make the chocolate layer.
- You will need to use a double boiler to melt the chocolate. To make a double boiler, find a glass bowl that will sit into your saucepan, but will not touch the bottom.
- Add about an inch of water to the bottom of the saucepan.
- Place the bowl into the saucepan, making sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl.
- Put the chocolate and 2 tbsp. of coconut oil in the bowl.
- Turn the heat to medium and as the water in the saucepan simmers, the chocolate and coconut oil will slowly melt together.
- As soon as the chocolate and oil are melted together, remove the bowl from the heat. Do not get any water in your chocolate or it will seize up.
- Slowly pour the melted chocolate over the coconut layer and tilt the pan to evenly spread it out.
- Place it back in the fridge for a few hours before cutting it into bars with a sharp knife.
- Note: I think that coconut has a subtle sweetness and the chocolate layer will also lend some sweetness to these bars. I find that these bars are the perfect sweet treat, but if you prefer something a little sweeter, you could add a little honey or maple syrup to the coconut mixture before pouring into the baking dish.
- These treats are best kept in the refrigerator until served.