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from out of Africa | cooking method: baking

Congo Bars - Congo Squares

Congo Bars or Congo Squares are a popular dessert in the southeastern United States. They are also known as Blond Brownies, or Blondies (as they are made without any cocoa powder). They don't have anything to do with Africa -- the Congo region has no tradition of baked desserts such as brownies and cakes, and wheat (for flour) cannot be grown in Central Africa. In fact, most of Africa has little tradition of sweet desserts.

The name Congo Bars is a fanciful allusion to a mythical Congo, which also inspired the famous Congo Room of Las Vegas, and even the Congo Room of Canton, Ohio. Perhaps someone thought that all of the exotic ingredients (the chocolate, the coconut) might come from Africa. In New Orleans, there is a plaza called "Congo Square" (also known as Beauregard Square and now part of Louis Armstrong Park) which, in the early 19th century, was a gathering place for both free and enslaved African-Americans who met for marketing, music-making, and dancing -- and eating this variety of brownie? Who knows?

congo bar? the congo room of canton, ohio

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The coconut can be replaced, in whole or part, with your favorite chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts . . . ).

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