Friday, May 28, 2010

Congo Bars (with Reeses Pieces)

Congo bars

I don't know why these are called Congo bars. I looked it up on the web and I didn't see an explanation. I mean I didn't spend hours researching Congo bars, I just don't have the time for that kind of research, so if anyone else out there knows why they are called Congo bars, please let us know.

To me these are more like Blondies, and I'm not a big fan of Blondies, but these were good. Maybe it was my addition of Reese Pieces? Nah, can't be cause I'm not a huge peanut butter fan either, but the combination of chocolate chips (lots of chocolate chips) and the Reese's just worked.

I found this recipe on If you haven't been to this woman's site, oh man, run don't walk, to see what amazing things she creates. Every once in awhile she will actually posts something that I can tackle. I so wouldn't attempt any of her adorable cake pops. They are masterpieces.

So she posted this recipe for Congo bars and I said to myself " well that's something I can do".

I have to admit, after spending all of last weekend working in the yard and garden I was in no mood to bake anything. I was hot. I was filthy. I had dirt under my nails. I didn't want to turn on the oven....but I did. By Sunday night the baking bug was back and I thought "these would be nice to tuck into the boys lunches" and "John could take a few of these to work with him and pass them out". So the mixing bowls came back out (I didn't even have to plug in the mixer) and in 10 minutes or so I had Congo Bars in the oven.

There are two versions of this recipes. One that you can use with a hand mixer and one that you mix by hand. I chose to make the hand mixed version. There really is something very satisfying about holding a bowl under your arm and a wooden spoon in your hand.

Congo bars 1

I replaced the nuts in this recipe with Reese's Pieces. You could substitute just about anything you can think of.

Congo Bars
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softened (11 tablespoons)
1 lb. light brown sugar (Oh my and thank you!)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
11.5 ounce package milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

By mixer:
Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine butter and sugar using a mixer until blended.
Add eggs, one at a time to sugar mixture, mixing on low in between each addition.
Add vanilla and mix.
Add flour and mix until combined.
Stir in chips and then pecans.

By hand:
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
Stir brown sugar into softened (not melted) butter in another large bowl until butter disappears. You can use the back of your spoon to help incorporate the two together.

Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture and stir well after each egg.

Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well.

Add dry flour mixture and stir until well combined.

Coat a 13 X 9 pan with non-stick spray and spread batter evenly into dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Make sure you don’t over bake.

Notes from Bakerella: Hey guys. Seems some of you are having mixed results. Most find these awesome, but some say they’re not done at 30 minutes. I’m starting to think my oven runs hotter than most. So, if the bars aren’t done at 30 minutes and the tops feel like they are getting too brown, then place a sheet of aluminum foil on top and bake a little longer. Use a toothpick to insert and check for doneness before removing from the oven. Also make sure you sifted the dry ingredients and used room temp butter, not melted.

I'll be away from the computer for a few days. The long weekend is coming up and I'm having a birthday party for my oldest son.

They'll be lots of good food.....and good friends.... and laughing by the fire....kinda perfect if you ask me.

Enjoy your long weekend.


Jess "Klutzy Chef" said...

Reeses Pieces are my weakness. Thank goodness I don't have easy access to them abroad or I would be making triple batches of these--they look fantastic.

Anonymous said...

you just cannot do this kind of stuff to me....yikes.

have a wonderful birthday weekend. hope it is much fun!!!

Mollie said...

So I'm not a HUGE fan of blondies either (because why take chocolate OUT of something???), but I clicked on your post because I wanted to see if anyone had provided an answer to the Congo question.

No one has yet, so here's what Google told me:

Congo Bars or Congo Squares are a popular dessert in the southeastern United States. They are also known as Blond Brownies, or Blondies (as they are made without any cocoa powder). They don't have anything to do with Africa -- the Congo region has no tradition of baked desserts such as brownies and cakes, and wheat (for flour) cannot be grown in Central Africa. In fact, most of Africa has little tradition of sweet desserts.

The name Congo Bars is a fanciful allusion to a mythical Congo, which also inspired the famous Congo Room of Las Vegas, and even the Congo Room of Canton, Ohio. Perhaps someone thought that all of the exotic ingredients (the chocolate, the coconut) might come from Africa. In New Orleans, there is a plaza called "Congo Square" (also known as Beauregard Square and now part of Louis Armstrong Park) which, in the early 19th century, was a gathering place for both free and enslaved African-Americans who met for marketing, music-making, and dancing -- and eating this variety of brownie? Who knows?

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Mollie - thanks so much for the info. I totally agree - taking the chocolate OUT of a recipe is usually just crazy, lol.

meg said...

My mom always made congo bars when I was growing up - her recipe was from a REALLY old southern cookbook... with no name explanation. Sorry!
I usually just make mine with chocolate chunks but will occasionally throw in anything else I might be in the mood for - everything works!