Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A choc-coconut obsession: vintage recipe experimenting

Over at the wonderful Jessica's blog Chronically Vintage, she recently shared a vintage recipe (from an advertisement) for chocolate coconut marble bars as a treat she was considering making for her husband's birthday. I liked the look of them and decided I'd try them too.
1952 advertisement featuring the recipe. Original source here; via Chronically Vintage's post here

I made the recipe as written except I used their allowed  substitution of self-raising flour and instead of heating the chocolate, sugar and water in a double boiler I used the microwave, as I generally do for all chocolate melting tasks. I also skimmed over the pan size (inches too tedious to convert) and grabbed my default slice pan.
Take one: too cakey. 
They were tasty but were honestly cake. Does this resemble those flat slices in the advertisement? No.  And the chocolate mix to marble on top was just weird. A horrible consistency. It made way more than I needed for the drizzling on top. It did marble very nicely though.

Take two involved two pans, more in line with the actual specifications in the recipe. I went back to plain flour with the added baking powder and salt. I also halved the amounts for the chocolate mix and did it in a double boiler. This made it much smoother, but now it resembled hot chocolate - definitely chocolatey, but a thin liquid rather than the chunky suspension of version one.
Take two: where did my marbling go?
As a result, the marbling on this version was barely noticeable. These pictured ones have the most distinct marbling of the lot - many squares were just a uniform brown as the chocolate mix was making puddles instead of lines. The height was better but it still didn't seem as I'd imagined.

Take three involved two changes. First, I abandoned the chocolate sugar water mix and just used melted chocolate. Second, I used only two eggs, as modern eggs are generally larger. I added an extra half a tablespoon of milk to help compensate but I was being urged to by my toddler assistant and it could have coped without it.

Take three: so close!
I'm finally happy with the main bar height and consistency but I'm not sure the straight chocolate was great for marbling - it looks amazing on the surface but didn't go into the main body of the bars at all.

So if I made this again, I'd stick with only two eggs, and the two pans.  I might go back to the first take on the chocolate mix, but use half the amount of chocolate and a quarter of the sugar and water.  If I do though it will be in a while - all these experiments have made my household a bit tired of them. When offered a piece, my toddler announced "not that cookie". Oops. Perhaps I have been a bit obsessed.


  1. Cake vs slice is a bit tricky! Well, they look tasty in all three versions, but the marbling is definitely best in the first one. I had never thought about vintage vs modern egg sizes! That's a really interesting point.

    1. It was tasty. Nothing so exceptional that this will become a recurring favourite, but I'm glad I experimented.
      Eggs can be tricky.
      The one that really scares me is refrigeration and freezing. I have read a number of recipes which want you to freeze or chill something for a set period of time and I'm well aware that modern refrigeration and freezers might be more efficient. So when the 1910 recipe says freeze for an hour, do I?

  2. The first one looks tastiest to me, but i like cake :)

    In the vintage advert photograph, the marbling looks more like your third version as well - mostly on top of the slices, rather than swirled throughout.

    1. That's true - which is very odd considering the way the recipe asks for it to be prepared.

  3. Really fascinating outcomes. It's so interesting to see how this recipe turned out for you, dear Rhiannon (and way to go on giving it multiple tries!). In the end, Tony wanted something else for his special day - but assured me he wants to give this treat a spin in the future. As my version would have to be gluten and egg free if I was to eat it myself, it's a given my take on it would be at least somewhat different from the original version no matter what, so getting your take on the "as it sits now" recipe is so helpful for when I give it a spin (in any form), too.

    Thank you very much for the wonderfully kind mention and for sharing how this mid-century dessert worked out for you.

    Many hugs,
    ♥ Jessica