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Homemade Almond Joyful Bars

Not too long ago, my mom had a kind discussion with me one day while shopping and told me I should start looking for “grown-up clothes.”

This was precisely after I showed her a completely adorable 1950’s retro-y dress that was all costume, no practicality whatsoever. And certainly not grown up.

I realized this was true because when I would land job interviews with certain employers and interview day arrived, I’d have nothing to wear. No black slacks. No khakis. No dress button downs or demure flats or a tailored suit. Zilch. Nada. Noooothing.

Can’t I just wear a poodle skirt and a leather jacket to my interview? Sheesh. Professional, profashional. Whatev.

So on my weekly monthly shopping adventures I’d look for “professional” and “grown up” clothes that would be fitting for the responsible adult and working woman I was.

You should know that my entire twenty-one years of life have been one giant game of dress-up since I could say the word “dress.” As a child, my skirts and dresses had to twirl or else–what’s the point? And I certainly did not like wearing pants because pants=you’re a boy. Obvi.

Plus, when grandma would go shopping at thrift stores or whatever and would bring home old prom dresses and things? Hallelujah JACKPOT! If Sandy in the 1980’s didn’t get her money’s worth out of her garishly tacky black sequined dress with a five-foot-wide tulle, I sure did. Holy cow.

And in high school, I was basically known as “the girl with the rainbow hair” and ridiculous costumes. Looking like everyone else was never an option. Bring on the vintage Alice and Wonderland Halloween costume I rocked in the hallways one day, and I’ll never forget the day I decided to wear every piece of gold jewelry I owned and channel my inner Gwen Stefani. Good times.

That (and a huge closet full of outrageous, one-of-a-kind clothing) said, looking grown-up was on the agenda. I stifled my urges to buy nautical things (you know women who buy the same clothes over and over? Nautical is my “over and over”; my go-to) and bought black trousers. And those b-word shirts–you know, blouses. I even invested in a plain black belt. And I switched out my loud Betseyville bags for something a little more understated.

I was professional now.

Resisting anchor-print pants and polka-dot jumpsuits was HARD. Why couldn’t I look like a ballerina-gone-to-a-grunge-show anymore? Or like 1950’s-meets-Gwen Stefani? I was boring girl. I was demure girl. I was … not me.

So one day, I basically had a nervous-clothing breakdown and flipped my sh*t and went crazy and bought every damn nautical thing in sight, racking up a Forever 21 bill solely on gaudy, costume jewelry and wacky-printed tights. I nearly went over the edge and dyed my then-platinum blonde locks turquoise in a fit of depressive rage. But alas, I spared my strands (they’d already endured ten-plus years of bleach and color and plus, I had to remain at least an ounce professional, per mom’s request) and stashed the trousers and blousons in the back corners of my closet. I broke out the Betsey bags (the louder, THE BETTER) and began dressing for me again.

Read: the prima-ballerina goes to the Nirvana show-meets-1950’s pin-up-hangs out with Gwen. My look in a nut-shell.

And me.

While my attire may not scream “professional” (do professionals scream, anyways?) I do. My work ethic has nothing to do with the way I dress. If it did, I’d most likely be the craziest employee ever. “Is Hayley coming in today?”

“I don’t know. Based on what she wore yesterday she looked like she was going to visit the Twilight Zone in Wonderland and grab a couple of drinks with the New York Ballet and the Mad Hatter at some dirty dive bar.”

So… yeah. I don’t like professional clothes. I’m only saying this because yesterday I bought the coolest high-waisted sailor pants EVER and felt like I was sixteen again. It was great.

Wanna know what else is great? The fact that I made Homemade Almond Joyful Bars. 

Now, I call them “Almond Joyful” because well, they’re not as pretty OR grown-up as their name-brand counterpart. However identical in taste, mine turned out larger and a tad messier, but still very delicious. Don’t judge; eat all candy-bars with loving and open arms. Unless Hayley-from-the-Twilight-Zone made them, in which case, one bite and you’ll be trippin’ balls.Homemade Almond Joyful Bars *adapted from the recipe at Oh! Nuts

1 pkg chocolate almond bark
1/2 can + a little extra sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1 (14 oz) pkg shredded coconut
About 24 almonds

1. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil, extending the sides over the edge of the pan. Lightly grease the foil and set aside.
2. Pour the milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Begin adding your powdered sugar, stirring until completely blended. The mixture will be extremely thick but power through–this is your pre-eating workout, I promise.
3. Now add your coconut to the milk mixture. Again, the mixture will be incredibly stiff, so if you need to, add a couple splashes of the remaining milk to thin it out. If it’s too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.
4. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and using a greased palm, press the mixture into an even layer of desired thickness. You may not use the whole pan; that’s okay if there’s extra room (I had some extra space).
5. Score the top of your mixture into bars of your desired shape and thickness using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter. Top each bar with two almonds, as per the candy bar standard. Pop the pan in the freezer to harden and chill for about 30 mins-1 hr. Once chilled, prepare your almond bark according to package directions.
6. Carefully lower the bars, one at a time, into the melted chocolate, coating it completely. Place coated bars on a foil-lined baking sheet and once finished, put the sheet in the freezer once more to harden the chocolate for about 15 mins. Store these airtight (I keep mine in the freezer and thaw for a few before eating).

While mine look a tad misshapen and messy, the taste is spot-on. And did I mention Ifreakinglovealmondjoyssomuch?! It’s true.

Easy AND delicious. And super duper fun and not boring. Yessss, you’re so welcome!!

Have a fantastic Thursday!

xo, Hayley

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Comments

  1. I want my daughter to grow up and be you, is that a problem? I love that you decided to be YOU not someone else. (And that is totally not a stalkerish sentence.) I may, however, stalk you for some of these Almond Joy bars. My favorite candy! We totally need to do a local food blogger meetup thingy where we all bring dessert, then eat until we’re sick.

  2. I love Almond Joys, too! They are sooo good. You should try a Bounty (most Harris Teeters now sell them in the world cuisine section since they are British). Also, Gwen Stefani’s style is awesome – just saying!

    • Sarah, I have never heard of Bounty before (only the brand of dryer sheets which I’m assuming are far-less appetizing!) but sadly we don’t have a Harris Teeter store here. Is it like a supermarket? And are Bounty bars like Almond Joys gone British??

  3. Just gorgeous! I want them.

  4. I’m envious that you and Dorothy live so close! I’d like to meet you gals and eat some of these bars–they look amazing!

  5. Those look delish! Also, now I desperately want to see you in your fab outfits :)

  6. Man, I want to live close to you guys so I can have some of these awesome bars too!!!! Hooray for staying true to you:-)

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