Sunday, September 15, 2013
caramel coconut cluster bars.
So in my last post I talked about my instagram addiction to getting more followers. Well today, I feel like talking about instagram too, but not about the followers thing.
Instagram is fun, it really is. I also see it as a truly wonderful app. Sometimes when I open it, I just marvel at just how a simple tapping movement on a 2D icon can transport you to a place where you can communicate with so many different people. Sure, the Internet is pretty much the same thing but I think there's a degree of intimacy that makes this transcending of geographical boundaries a lot more apparent.
Instagram is an incredibly easy way for you to share photos, and pretty ones with the help of filters to boot. And you only have a small square area to show what you captured to the world, so it's a lot easier to compose your pictures, or at least that's the way I feel. I realised that these features of instagram has made me lazy in improving the quality of my photos. When I use my DSLR to take pictures for this blog, I have to drag out my special wooden table and before that, clear whatever junk that's sitting on it and wipe it down, and then get out whatever plates and props that I need before I can finally start snapping pictures. (And I have to move everything back afterwards.) So after a long period of not using my DSLR, instead filling that void with lots of picture-taking with my phone for instagram, I felt a tug of reluctance when I had to get my DSLR out for these pictures you see in this post.
And I was shocked, and ashamed. I used to enjoy taking pictures with my DSLR so much, I couldn't imagine that the day where I wouldn't want to use my DSLR would come so quickly. Luckily once I started aligning my eye with the camera hole and positioning my fingers around the camera body just so, the feeling of familiarity and excitement came gushing back again.
I think, as much as I enjoy the convenience instagram provides for picture sharing, nothing (I hope) can replace the feel of churning out photos that reveal careful thought and planning behind them. I'm not the best photographer, but I know that well-composed photos are not just what they are at first glance. Every detail matters, and every detail has been planned for meticulously. Some pictures have a piece of cake on not just one plate but two- the two plates would be stacked on top of each other- and whether you know it or not, the addition of a second plate, as extraneous as it seems, contributes to a more aesthetically pleasing picture.
I know one thing's for sure though, that instagram can never substitute my love for blogging simply because it's a platform for you to share pictures, not thoughts that can run on forever. Blogging gives me a way to dump all my verbal vomit- I talk way too much and want to talk way too much to ever limit myself to a medium that only allows me to share a few sentences, max. (I don't think instagram has a word limit but I it isn't nice to bombard people with too many words when the focus is supposed to be the picture.) And I do appreciate what Blogger allows me to do what instagram doesn't. I think you can tell by the length of my recent posts and the thought I invest in them that I enjoy writing extensively.
So at the end of the day, what I'm trying to say is that while I love instagram, it's hardly every going to distract me from blogging. Yay! But if you've noticed that I post less frequently now compared to last time, it's because of school (urgh), not instagram.
Speaking of school, when I showed my friends some photos of my bakes they said that I should just quit this study prison and set up my own bakery. I feel so flattered! I love it when people can identify my dream without me having to tell them- one of the highest compliments ever. Oh, reminder for self: I should totally talk about my dream bakery in the next post.
Okay so now about these caramel coconut cluster bars. I have no criticism for these. If you like coconut, caramel, chocolate, buttery crunchy shortbread and good food, you will love these! The caramel is worth mentioning because it isn't the hard and super chewy kind; it's soft and you can easily bite into it even when it's refrigerated. Good stuff.
Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars
makes 24 bars
slightly adapted from Baked Elements
3 cups flaked sweetened coconut, toasted and divided (I used desiccated)
For the cookie base:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the caramel layer:
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
chocolate chips, as much as necessary to cover the surface
Make the cookie base: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Cream the butter, sugar and salt together until fluffy. Add the vanilla and flour and beat until just combined.
Pat the dough into the prepared pan, prick the top of the dough with the tines of a fork and bake the crust for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the caramel.
Make the caramel layer: Combine the corn syrup, both sugars and 2 tbsp of water in a medium saucepan. Set the saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugars dissolve. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 240F to 245F.
Meanwhile, stir together the heavy cream and condensed milk.
When the mixture reaches the right temperature, remove from heat and stir in the cream mixture and butter until combined. Return to heat and bring the mixture back to 250F without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt and 2 cups of toasted coconut.
Pour the caramel directly onto the cookie base and quickly spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of tasted coconut and chocolate chips over the surface. Let the bars cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Slice and serve.