a tale of two sweetened condensed milks

Aimee Herring (who photographed The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread) apparently didn’t get my Facebook status message, so she never made it over to take a snap shot of these freshly cut Gooey Coconut Dream Bars for me. I’m pretty happy with this shot though. And from the raves I heard all afternoon long, I’d say my coworkers were pretty happy with the treats. My favorite comment was, “I don’t even like coconut, but I really like these!”


The recipe can’t be any easier. It’s basically Baking 101. Here is a video (cool!) of the last step when you pour on the sweetened condensed milk. I didn’t even do a great job, but it hardly matters. The milk spreads in the oven and you get a nice, even coating of sweet goodness. To see a pro at work, check out this video of Amy Scherber on Martha.

About that condensed milk, I made two batches of dream bars, and didn’t realize until it was too late that I had two different brands. So I made one with Carnation and one with Magnolia. You can almost tell from the drips on the can that these two are more different than you’d expect. The Carnation is noticeably more yellow and quite a bit thicker too. I figured it would make an interesting experiment to compare them side by side.

Maybe you can see the difference in color a little better here in this side-by-side unbaked shot. That’s the Magnolia (whiter) on the right. So how did they turn out? Well, the bars made with Magnolia (surprisingly) baked up more golden, which is an effect I was hoping to achieve. I know it makes no sense that the bars with the whiter milk turned more golden, but it’s true. So I brought that batch to work with me. What about the taste? It’s a tough call, but I’d give the nod to Carnation. I almost can’t explain why, but I’d say it was a touch saltier, which I liked. You can’t go wrong either way though. Happy holiday baking!

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