Coconut Bars

Coconut Bars

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.

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 0hr 40mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • Parchment paper (optional)
Evenly butter lower interior sides of a 9×9-inch square cake pan (18×13-inch half sheet pan if tripling). Line with parchment and set aside. The sides of the bars are prone to sticking to the pan.
  Place oven rack just below center; start preheating to 400°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). Ovens often run hot or cold or preheat slowly.
  • 5 ounces all-purpose flour, bleached
  • 3 ½ ounces (½ cup firmly packed) dark brown sugar
Start the crust. In a 1-quart bowl (3-quart bowl if tripling), whisk together. Break up any brown sugar lumps. Weighing flour produces consistent results. Bleached flour is low in gluten, which promotes tenderness.
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
With a fork or a pastry blender, mash butter into sugar mixture until no dry flour remains. Add to prepared pan; use your fingers to press firmly into an even layer. Bake until bubbly and amber at the edges (8-10 minutes). Set aside on a wire rack to cool and firm up (8-10 minutes).

Tip: If butter is not softened, warm on medium power on a microwave-safe plate.

The crust is pre-baked to avoid overcooking the topping. The quantity of butter is absolutely essential for gooey goodness.
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, bleached
  • ½ teaspoon double acting baking powder, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Meanwhile, start topping. Whisk together in the now empty 1-quart bowl. Baking powder swells the topping, separating it into two layers. Sifting baking powder eliminates distasteful clumps.
  • 2 ounces (⅔ cup) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 ½ ounces (½ cup firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg (or 1 teaspoon corn starch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
Add all to flour mixture. With a fork, break up any coconut clumps, stirring until evenly combined (40-60 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. A fork gently distributes the topping without breaking the crust.
  Bake just until the surface is amber (8-10 minutes). Cool on a wire rack 10-15 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.

To freeze: Wrap with plastic wrap, mark date/contents. Defrost at room temperature in original bags (to minimize dehydration).

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).



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