layered bars with a shortbread crust, milk chocolate center, and caramelized coconut topping
yield: approximately 18 bars
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
12 oz milk chocolate, chopped (or chips)
½ cup heavy cream, heated
1 (13.5 fl oz) can coconut milk
1 cup brown sugar
6 oz coconut flakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13” baking dish with butter and line it with a piece of parchment paper (allow the parchment to hang over at least 2 inches).
Combine the softened butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream together until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add a ½ tsp of the vanilla and salt. Mix well. Add the flour in two batches, mixing until incorporated.
Press the shortbread dough evenly into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Let cool.
Add the milk chocolate to a mixing bowl. Pour the heated cream over top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add the remaining vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Spread the chocolate mixture into an even layer over the shortbread crust. Chill for 1 hour until set.
Add the coconut milk and brown sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine and bring to a simmer. Add the coconut flakes. Simmer on medium for 8 minutes, stirring often, until deeply golden in color and thickened. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 more minutes until almost all of the liquid has been reduced. Stir in a pinch of salt. Turn off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Pour the coconut mixture over the chocolate layer and spread evenly. Chill for at least 3 hours until set. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into squares.
Storing: Store the bars in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.