The sweet tooth gene is pretty strong in my family. Mom taught me how to bake, and Dad taught me that Reese’s cups are some of the greatest inventions in the world. Dad is a fan of the classic desserts: chocolate chip cookies, pecan pie and coconut cake, just to name a few. I remember being in the first grade and sitting at the kitchen table in a puddle of frustration with a math worksheet in front of me. I had been having trouble with double-digit subtraction, apparently, and Dad went to the pantry, got a bag of chocolate chips, sat down next to me, poured some out onto the table, and used them as incentive/visual aids. They worked. Perhaps too well: chocolate chips only enter my apartment if a specific recipe requires them, because they don’t linger once the bag is opened.
In honor of Dad and his mathematical genius, I’m sending these chocolate chip bars to him for Father’s Day this weekend. The recipe is adapted from about three different sources, but mostly from my lovely friend Mary Frances, who introduced these dangerously addictive beauties in her blog. Thanks to Deb at SmittenKitchen and her hundreds of commenters, I discovered that you can pretty much put whatever the heck you want in there. Dad gets chocolate chips, pecans, coconut, and rum (one of our cats used to slink into the living room and take sips of Dad’s rum-and-diet-coke when he wasn’t watching). Happy Father’s Day, Daddy! Thanks for your continuing ignorance of my underwear blog.
Chocolate Chip Rum Bars
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 c. brown sugar, packed (I’ve used both light and dark brown with equal success)
2 large eggs
2 tsps. vanilla extract
2 c. PLUS 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour (the extra tbsps. of flour are to balance the rum; if you leave the rum out, use just 2 c. of flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 and 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. shredded coconut (the sweetened bad-for-you stuff, not the healthy stuff)
1 c. pecans, lightly toasted, cooled, and chopped
1/2 c. dark rum
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan.
Stir together the dry ingredients and set aside. In a medium-to-large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Immediately remove from heat and add the brown sugar, eggs, rum, and vanilla; mix well. Allow to cool for five minutes or so.
Add the dry ingredients to the brown sugar mixture; stir well. Fold in chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes (35 minutes has always been plenty for me. As Mary Frances notes, these are at their comfort-food best if they’re slightly underbaked). Cut into bars while warm. Eat immediately and most likely burn your tongue for your troubles.