While I am not a big fan of brownies, the the Coconut Checkerboard Brownies recipe from Bon Appetit Desserts (pg 589) is no ordinary brownie. The coconut and checkerboard brownies consists of a layer of chocolate brownie at the bottom and alternating squares of chocolate and coconut brownie on the top which makes it look like a very attractive chess board.
When I first saw the recipe, I thought it looked fairly complicated and I was quite hesitant to try it out. But in the spirit of improving my baking skills, I gave it a shoot and it did not turn out as difficult as I thought, plus it was really quite delicious!
It was fairly easy to make the coconut and chocolate batter. The slightly more challenging part was laying out the checker board. First, I shaped the hardened coconut batter into squares and placed them on the chocolate brownie base. Then I spooned the chocolate mixture in between.
It has a lovely coconut fragrance and alternates between crunchiness from the coconut bites and chewiness from the brownies. It was well liked by my family especially those who like coconut.
Coconut Checkerboard Brownies (Makes a 9×9 inch tray)
1 7-ounce package sweetened flaked coconut (I use 200 g of desiccated coconut)
1/4 cup powdered sugar (cut down to 3/4 of this amount)
1/4 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut
2 ounces Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes, room temperature (57 g)
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar (cut to 1 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup sifted unbleached all purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
Coconut Batter: Measure 1/3 cup flaked coconut; cover and set aside. Place remaining coconut and sugar in processor; finely chop. Add cream of coconut and cream cheese to processor and blend well. Add egg, almond extract, lemon juice, and salt and blend well, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours.
Chocolate Batter: Butter 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Melt butter with chocolate in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Pour into medium bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Whisk sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl; sift over chocolate mixture. Mix until blended and smooth. Spread 1 1/4 cups chocolate batter in prepared pan (cover and refrigerate remaining batter). Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Refrigerate batter until very firm, about 3 hours.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F (170°C). Alternate 1 tablespoon remaining chocolate batter and 1 tablespoon coconut batter over chocolate layer, filling pan completely (I arranged the coconut batter first into a checkerboard then filled the chocolate batter in between the coconut squares). Sprinkle reserved 1/3 cup flaked coconut over coconut mounds; press gently to adhere. Cover pan tightly with foil.
Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake until tester inserted in center of 1 chocolate mound comes out almost clean, about 40 minutes (This is a little too long as my coconut flakes started to turn very brown after 20 minutes – watch the oven carefully). Cool brownies completely in pan on rack.
Do Ahead : Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover brownies tightly and store at room temperature.