Grandma Dorothy used to bake these for Mark’s dad every year for his birthday. They remind me of pecan pie, but without all the work.
For party bites, cut each square into fourths and serve them on a big platter. Your guests will rave, especially if you also offer variations, such as Pecan and Chocolate Drizzled. They look fabulous together.
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
|1 teaspoon butter||Evenly grease lower interior sides of a 9×9-inch square cake pan; set aside.|
|Position an oven rack just below center; preheat convection ovens to 400°F (verify with an oven thermometer).||Ovens often run hot or cold, or preheat slowly.|
|5 ounces (1 cup) bleached
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
|For the crust: In a 1-quart bowl, weigh the flour and whisk in sugar, breaking up any clumps.||Weighing flour yields consistent results. Bleached flour has less gluten, which promotes tenderness.|
|1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature||Use a fork or a pastry blender to mash butter into sugar mixture until no dry flour remains. Press firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until bubbly and amber at the edges (10-12 minutes). Set aside on a wire rack to rest. Meanwhile, start the filling.
Tip: If butter is not yet room temperature, warm on high power in a tempered glass bowl just until soft.
|The crust is pre-baked to avoid overcooking the filling.|
|1 tablespoon bleached
1/2 teaspoon double acting
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
|For the filling: Sift all together into a 1-quart bowl.||Sifting leavening agents eliminates distasteful clumps.|
|2/3 cup (2 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut||Whisk into flour mixture with a fork to coat the coconut.|
|1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
|Whisk into the flour mixture until evenly combined. Use a fork to spread thinly and evenly over the baked crust.
Bake just until the surface is amber (8-10 minutes).
|Baking time varies with coconut moisture content; dry coconut browns faster.|
|1/16 teaspoon butter or oil||Cool on a wire rack 12-15 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges to loosen from the pan. Lightly grease knife with butter to cut 16 even squares (cut in half, cut each side in half again; give pan a quarter turn and repeat). Store in sealed containers.||Lightly greasing the knife yields clean looking cuts.|
Testing Notes: For an egg substitute, 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water may be used.
PECAN COCONUT BARS
Add 1/4 cup diced pecans to filling when adding the coconut.
CHOCOLATE DRIZZLED COCONUT BARS
After bars are cut and cooled, transfer to waxed paper. In a 1-cup tempered glass bowl (for easy monitoring) soften 1/2 cup real chocolate chips on high power, stirring frequently to evenly distribute heat. When all but a fifth of the chips are melted, remove from microwave for the last time. Whisk until chips finish melting and chocolate is smooth and shiny. Dip fork into the hot chocolate and drizzle over bars in big zigzags. Chill 10-15 minutes to quickly solidify the chocolate (optional); separate bars and serve.
TO FREEZE: Wrap closely with plastic wrap, mark with date/contents. Defrost at room temperature in original bags (to minimize dehydration).