Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Southern Candy Bar

If you have a copy of my cookbook (Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm), then you know I like grits. I feature grits in the breakfast, entree, and dessert section. Yes, dessert section. My dad loves the combination of coconut and chocolate. I created this simple dessert using basic, inexpensive pantry ingredients that you probably already have on hand. You’d never guess that the secret ingredient in these decadent little bites is a Southern staple: grits!

This is the heading for my Crispy Coconut Bites with Chocolate Sauce recipe in my cookbook using grits. Keeping with my inspiration for this dessert, I decided to create a Southern candy bar for my dad. Grits pair well with coconut because the texture of the grits melds with the texture of the coconut. Even if someone is not a fan of grits, they would probably not even know they were eating grits in this dessert. I actually have proof of that statement. I was conducting cooking demonstrations for Women's Health magazine's "Are You Game" event last year in both Chicago and New York.
I prepared my crispy coconut bites for the event. Before the women sampled the bites, I told them that I was not going to tell them the secret ingredient until after they ate it. I watched as they took a bite. Smiles and expressions of joy filled their faces. They liked it; so I thought they were ready to hear the secret ingredient. The secret ingredient I told them is Grits! You should have seen the faces of the New York ladies who have probably never even seen grits before. I heard from the crowd, "but we don't like grits." I said, "well I guess you do now haha! " They all laughed. The story to be learned, if you think you don't like grits, try my crispy coconut bites and this recipe for my Southern candy bar.
Southern Candy Bar
1 cup coconut water
1/3 cup coconut milk
½ cup quick cooking grits
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
12 pecan halves
½ lb. chocolate, preferably bar not chips (milk, semi-sweet, or dark)

Bring the coconut water and milk to a slight boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the grits and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the grits reach porridge consistency, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and shredded coconut. Spoon the grits mixture into a wax paper-lined loaf pan. Spread out evenly with a rubber spatula and let cool at room temperature for 2 hours or until slightly firm.

After 2 hours, cut the coconut mixture into 12 rectangles.

Chop the chocolate into small chunks.
To temper the chocolate, fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Place a bowl on top of the saucepan and add a third of the chocolate chunks. Once the chocolate starts to melt, begin stirring the chocolate. Stir in the second-third of the chocolate chunks until melted. Then, stir in the last of the chocolate chunks until smooth. Transfer the bowl to the counter lined with a kitchen towel.

Lay out a large piece of wax paper on the counter.

Working with one bar at a time, place a bar on a slotted spatula. Top each bar with a pecan halve in the middle of the bar. Spoon melted chocolate over the bar until completely coated. Lightly tap the spatula to remove excess chocolate. To cover the bottom side of the bar, spoon a line, the size of the bar, of chocolate on to the wax paper. Using a butter knife, slide the chocolate coated coconut-grits bar onto the line of chocolate. Repeat with the rest of the coconut-grits bars. Allow to rest until chocolate has hardened.

Enjoy immediately or store in an air-tight container.

Makes 12 bars


  1. whitney,

    can you please please please give the recipe for your chocolate souffle? I watched the Masterchef show and knew that you made the most incredible looking chocolate souffle. I love to watch you on that show last year by the way, and I was so happy to see you won that show :) always wishing you good luck on your journey to be a great chef!! cheers!!

  2. Hi Whitney!
    I tried them last Sunday for my best friend but I made them a little bit more "bitter" adding to coconaut milk a shot of white rhum (He loves that and I loves so... xD): they were totally FABULOUS!
    Now I'm waiting for a wonderful recipe for this "hot" summer: maybe a great ice-cream? ;)
    Thank you soo much for your attention and many many kisses for you!

    See soon!!