*Makes 30 bar cookies.
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
First, make the crust. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels (I used one 14 oz. package of the Kraft brand)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok – I didn’t coat the base of the brownies in chocolate so I only used 1 cup semisweet chips to drizzle on top)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden (mine took about 25 minutes). Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on 50% power for 1-2 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer (I kind of had to use my hands on this part to get it into an even layer). Let topping set until cooled. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).
Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish. Alternately, you can omit the step to dip the base of the brownie in chocolate and simply drizzle the melted chocolate on the top of the bars (you won’t need the full 10 oz. if you choose this step). Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.