Grandma Dorothy used to bake these Coconut Bars for Mark’s dad every year for his birthday. Now that Grandma is no longer with us, Mark has taken over the tradition. It’s no wonder that they are his dad’s favorite, the topping separates into two layers during baking, creating a delightfully gooey center. They remind us of pecan pie, but without all the work!
This recipe triples easily. The prep and cooking times remain virtually identical, and yet you get to share three times the goodness. For party bites, cut each square into fourths and serve them on a big platter.
Coconut Bars Recipe
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
||Evenly butter lower interior sides of a lined 9×9-inch square cake pan (18×13-inch half sheet pan if tripling); set aside. Center an oven rack; preheat to 400°F Convection (verify with an oven thermometer). Meanwhile…||The sides of the bars are prone to sticking to the pan. Internal oven thermostats are often improperly calibrated.|
||Crust: Place a 1-quart bowl on a scale and weigh in the flour (3-quart bowl if tripling). Add brown sugar; whisk together, breaking up any lumps. With a fork or a pastry blender, mash in the butter until no dry flour remains. Add to prepared pan, using your fingers to press firmly into an even layer. Bake until bubbly and amber at the edges (~9 minutes). Set aside on a wire rack to cool and firm up (~9 minutes). Meanwhile…||Weighing flour produces consistent results. Bleached flour is low in gluten, which promotes tenderness. The crust is pre-baked to avoid overcooking the topping. The quantity of butter is absolutely essential for gooey goodness.|
||Topping: Add flour and salt to the now-empty 1-quart bowl; sift in the baking powder. Whisk together with a fork. Add remaining ingredients; break up any coconut clumps and stir to thoroughly combine (~40 seconds). With a silicone spatula, scrape out over the pre-baked crust. Use the fork to spread thinly and evenly, taking care to reach all edges.||Baking powder swells the topping, separating it into two layers. Sifting eliminates distasteful clumps. A fork gently distributes the topping without breaking the crust.|
|Bake just until the surface is amber (~9 minutes). Cool on a wire rack (~15 minutes). With a firm silicone spatula, free edges from pan and then cut 16 even squares (cut in half, cut each side in half again; give pan a quarter turn and repeat). Store in sealed containers at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer.||Baking time varies with coconut moisture content; dry coconut browns faster than moist coconut. These bars stick to everything but silicone (even a buttered knife).|
TO FREEZE: Wrap closely with plastic wrap, mark with date/contents. Defrost at room temperature in original bags (to minimize dehydration).