Friday, May 28, 2010

Sakura Coconut Neapolitan Bars

I've been in a candy-making mood. Yesterday I made nougats, and these coconut bars. I'm not sure how I decided to make these bars, but I do know that I have been sitting on some cherry blossom extract that Rachel of La Fuji Mama sent me ages ago. I figured that this would be a good way to use some of it.

Although we make these bars at work, I found another recipe online. I was feeling a little lazy, so instead of scaling down one recipe, I just used one from Martha Stewart's website.

It is best to use dessicated coconut, not fresh, though I have one in my photo. The extra moisture in the fresh coconut will not allow the bars to set. I just happened to have a whole coconut on hand and decided to use it for some "background noise". I found dessicated coconut at Whole Foods in the baking section. It is unsweetened which is important because the sweetened condensed milk and chocolates have enough sugar in them for the recipe. I know that Martha's original recipe calls for half unsweetened and half sweetened, but I don't like things that are overly sweet and I felt that the bars would be with the extra sugar.

I didn't take any pictures when I assembled them, but it's pretty easy. I did find that having a rectangular plastic bowl scraper (with a flat side) helps to smooth the layers beautifully.

Sakura Coconut Neapolitan Bars
(You can find the original recipe here)
Makes 160 pieces

342 g white chocolate, chopped
396 g (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
42 g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use
227 (one 8 oz bag) dessicated unsweetened coconut
28 g milk chocolate, melted
red gel-paste food coloring as needed
sakura cherry blossom extract to taste

Directions:

Line an 8-inch square cake pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang.

Combine white chocolate, condensed milk, butter, salt, and vanilla seeds in a medium bowl and melt over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring frequently. Do not let the water boil or you may burn the mixture.

Once melted and smooth, mix in the coconut. Leave the bowl over the hot water while the layers set. It will be easier to smooth the mixture.

Remove 336 grams of the coconut mixture and add chopped milk chocolate. Mix until melted. You can put this over the pot of hot water to melt if needed. Smooth this layer into the bottom of your lined pan, smoothing it out evenly with the flat side of the scraper. Be patient and tilt the pan away from you to get a better perspective. Put pan into fridge or freezer until slightly cool and set. If it gets too hard or too soft, it won't be easy to spread the next layer. You can take the pan out and let come to room temp a little if you need to.

Spread another 336 grams over the chocolate layer. Smooth and chill.

Add enough extract to taste and food coloring to tint the remaining 336 grams pink. Smooth and chill. Wrap the pan and let it set overnight.

Cut into bars of desired size. 1 1/2 X 1/4 inch strips should yield 160 pieces according to the recipe. I cut mine a different size.

These bars should keep for a week covered and in the refrigerator.

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