Congo Bars

If you like soft chocolate-chip cookies, you probably like blondies and Congo bars even better, since the ratio of chewy center to crisp edge is more in your favor. This Congo bars recipe, adapted from the 1986 Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook from former Yankee editor Susan Peery, yields delicious chocolate-chip squares jazzed up with pecans and coconut.

The exact origins of the recipe are unclear, but it’s likely that the “Congo” in the name was intended to sound exotic. The dish reached peak popularity in the 1980s, though the coconut was often left out, and Congo bars and blondies became interchangeable. But what’s in a name, anyway? What’s in the pan is more important, and these are terrific.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1-2/3 cups firmly packed light-brown sugar
1-1/2 sticks salted butter, melted, then slightly cooled, plus more for pan
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans


Preheat your oven to 350° and set a rack to the middle position. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, draping the sheets over the sides (to make the bars easier to remove). Grease the foil with butter.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cooking & Recipes


12 to 15 bars

Preparation Time: 

15 minutes

Start to Finish Time: 

40 minutes

Preparation Method


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