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Congo Bars

Blondies kicked up a notch, with semi-sweet and white chocolate chips and toasted coconut and pecans.

May 14, 2018

Congo Bars are blondies kicked up a notch, with semi-sweet and white chocolate chips plus toasted coconut and pecans, making them extra rich and chewy.

Makes three-dozen bar cookies.


  • 1-and-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or gluten-free flour substitute, such as Bob’s one-to-one
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-and-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1-and-1/2 cups packed, light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-and-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-and-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup good-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup good-quality white-chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt until blended. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. 
Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture just until combined. Fold in the coconut, chocolate chips and pecans until evenly incorporated.

Spread batter in prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Bake bars about 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through to ensure even baking. Because of the chips, the toothpick test isn’t reliable. When done, the edges should be browned, and the top of the bars will be shiny and feel firm when touched. 

Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for at least 2 hours.

Cook’s notes: Recipes for Congo Bars have been around for almost 100 years, but no one seems to know where their name comes from. You may use all chocolate chips instead of the blend for these bars, and walnuts instead of pecans. Toast nuts in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until fragrant. Toast untoasted coconut at 325 degrees for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through. Or try a method used by our friends at America’s Test Kitchen: Spread the coconut in an even layer on a large plate and microwave on high heat, stirring at 30-seconf intervals,  until golden brown. This usually takes about 2 minutes total.