Congo Bars

Have you experienced the joy of the Congo Bar?

If not, let me tempt you by saying it is the perfect marriage of blondie and brownie. Two variations of decadent and chewy brownies sandwiched together with nuts (or not!) and topped with a ganache drizzle.

I don’t claim to have much self-control when it comes to eating most things (except for kalamata olives and chickpeas – I can resist them, easy), but that was never more evident than with these congo bars. I nearly had to have my kids tie my hands behind my back to keep me from picking off another bite and another and another. Good thing they don’t know how to tie knots effectively yet.

To throw a quick vote in favor of the nuts, I am usually in the no-nuts-in-my-brownie camp but used them in this recipe because I wanted to be open-minded and everything. I think…just maybe…quite possibly…I’ve been converted to loving nuts in my brownies. Or at least in my congo bars. They provided the perfect amount of nutty crunch in between the dense, mouth-watering layers.

Congo Bars

One Year Ago: Honey Lime Fruit Salad
Two Years Ago: My Favorite Cookie
Three Years Ago: Honey Mustard Chicken

Congo Bars

Yield: Makes about 18-24 bars, depending on what size you cut them

Congo Bars

Ingredients

    Congo Layer:
  • 1 1/3 cups (6¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces (¾ stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1¼ cups firmly packed (8 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white (save the egg yolk for the brownie layer!)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts
  • Brownie Layer:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (¾ ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Ganache Drizzle:
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with foil and lightly grease and flour (I like to use Baker’s Joy to make the greasing/flouring part easier).
  2. For the congo layer: in a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar, egg, egg white, and vanilla just until blended. Stir in the flour mixture just until the batter is smooth.
  3. Scoop the thick, sticky batter onto 8 or 9 different areas on the bottom of the prepared pan. With an offset spatula or rubber spatula, spread the batter to cover the pan as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly on top and gently press them into the batter.
  4. Partially bake the layer until it is no longer shiny on top and is beginning to come away from the sides of the pan, about 12-15 minutes (it will continue baking with the brownie layer). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the brownie layer.
  5. For the brownie layer: in a small or medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over very low heat, stirring with a silicone spatula until smooth. Or, combine in a medium microwave-safe bowl and melt in a microwave oven at 50 percent power (medium) for 30-second bursts, stirring after each burst, until melted, 1 to 1½ minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until incorporated. Add the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until well blended. Stir in the flour mixture just until the batter is smooth. Scoop the thick, sticky batter onto 8 or 9 different areas of the still-warm congo layer. With the offset spatula, spread the batter as evenly as possible.
  7. Bake the brownie until the top is no longer shiny; appears set; feels firm, rather than soft; and a round wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist chocolate crumbs attached, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. The top layer will set up as it cools.
  8. To make the ganache drizzle: place the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil over medium heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Whisk together until smooth and creamy. Set the mixture aside at room temperature just until it cools a bit and begins to thicken slightly.
  9. Pour the warm glaze into a small ziploc bag. Snip a small opening at one of the corners to allow a thin flow of glaze. Squeezing lightly, pipe thin lines of chocolate in a zigzag pattern over the cooled surface of the brownie. Set aside at room temperature until the glaze is set, 1 to 1½ hours.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/congo-bars/

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Flo Braker’s Baking for All Occasions

28 Responses to Congo Bars

  1. A two in one brownie and blondie, something for everyone. Looks and sounds delicious

  2. Corinna says:

    I am so going to make these today. They look delicious and perfect for an overcast, dreary day.

  3. These look so good, I will definitely be making them.

  4. I have been craving brownies for a good while. These look like the perfect thing to end that craving!

  5. Kim in MD says:

    I have never had a Congo bar. I can’t wait to try this! :-)

  6. Jennifer says:

    These look so good and I just started making them as a birthday treat for my friend, but I do not have “Dutch Processed” cocoa powder. Is regular cocoa powder ok or should I stop making these?

    • Mel says:

      Jennifer – keep on going! I meant to edit that part of the recipe and I forgot, but I used natural unsweetened cocoa and they turned out great!

  7. These look wonderful! How have I not had them before?!

  8. Mrs. Jen B says:

    A blondie. And a brownie. United.

    I’m not sure my brain can handle the thought, but I’m pretty sure my tastebuds could.

  9. Abby says:

    I love brownies and blondies! This is a marriage I can’t wait for!

  10. Brownies + Blondies = Heaven! They look great!

  11. briarrose says:

    Wonderful mix of brownie and blondie…..if only I had a piece or two here on my plate. Delicious.

  12. Amy Ziehl says:

    You do know that your site is dangerous for us pregnant ladies to look at right? :]

  13. congo bars? brownies and blondies in one handy-dandy bar? count me in!

  14. You had me at ganache, mmmmmm. Doesn’t hurt that I am super hungry right now???

  15. Tiffany says:

    Thank you so much Mel! I have made Probably a hundred of your recipes. You never leave me astray. Made these last night and there is only one row left. Delish! I blame you for my weight gain not my lack of self control.

  16. grace says:

    have you seen the movie ‘congo’? i don’t remember much about it except that i was highly disturbed at the end of it all. savage monkeys and all that…
    cookie bars are much better! tasty work, mel. :)

  17. Kendra says:

    I might be stupid, but…what is the reason for lining the pan with tin foil? I noticed that instruction is also on Magical Layered Brownies…( I didn’t have success with those because I didn’t bake the brownie part long enough, so in my case trying to get the bars out of the pan without getting small pieces of tin foil in it was impossible! ma bad.) I suppose when I do it right it would work fine…but still wondering what the reason is?

    • Mel says:

      Kendra – I like to line the pan with foil for easier cleanup – so I don’t have to scrub out the crusty brownie bits from my pan. The trick is really greasing the foil well so the tin foil doesn’t stick to the brownies. Underbaking will definitely make it harder to get the brownies out of the pan. I also like being able to lift out the foil handles and cut the brownies out of the pan to get even, cleaner cuts. Having said all that, you could definitely leave off the foil and bake like normal brownies. It’s really up to you!

  18. susan says:

    mmmm, these look delicious!

  19. Kelly says:

    These bars look amazingly delicious. The best of two worlds. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Sandee says:

    dear mel. my p90x diet hates you. just sayin.

  21. Jenn says:

    Delicious!! You definitely need the walnuts in the middle though. It just gives it a little somethin’ somethin’. Taking them to our Teacher Appreciation meal tomorrow. I’m sure the teachers will appreciate these!!

  22. Jana says:

    Tried these out the other day and they are fabulous!! Super yummy…they were a hit with the whole family!! Shared the recipe on my blog as well! Thanks!

  23. Kendra says:

    I’m not so much a brownie fan, but I loved these. My husband (big brownie fan) did too! They were all gone in a matter of days.

  24. Shannon says:

    My boys have been watching a backyardigans dvd from the library where “everything’s boinga,” so I keep thinking these should be called “boinga bars.” Anyway, I made these for a preschoolers/moms get together today and since I don’t know preferences I left out the nuts, but I have to say these are great for the indecisive like me. Do I want brownie or cookie? Chocolate or not? Yes and yes. They looked a little funny when they first came out of the oven like they were overdone or something, so make sure to watch them and don’t overbake them at all. With that said they turned out great and were well received. The foil trick is soooo worth it, don’t skip it. They are in some ways better than just a brownie, if I dare even say that – I love brownies!

  25. […] Congo Brownie Bars From Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  26. Olivia says:

    These are in the oven now… Hoping they come out b/c I only had unsweetened chocolate, instead of semi-sweet.. Added a lot more sugar!

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