Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coconut Bars

I grew up thinking that I didn't like coconut.  Well, more specifically, I didn't like the coconut flavor and coconut flakes that I had tasted in candy bars like mounds and almond joys. Recently, however, I've been using more coconut -- we've been putting coconut flakes in our granola (delicious) and I've discovered that the combination of coconut and chocolate is actually darn tasty. So I can't tell if coconut is growing on me or if I've been depriving myself for years because of fake flavors in a candy bar. Maybe a little of both. 
My husband, on the other hand, loves coconut.  He could probably talk for hours about his love for almond joys and mounds (just ask him about our time in Bartels).  So when I came across a recipe for coconut bars, I knew he would like them. What I didn't know is that I would end up loving them as well!  Surprisingly, I thought that these coconut bars tasted remarkably like pecan pie bars (which, coincidentally, I had been wanting to try for a while).  The coconut flavor is delicious but subtle - believe it or not, I think I'd actually increase the amount of coconut next time!  These bars were best when completely cooled, but of course I didn't wait that long for my first bite and it was still delicious. A buttery crust with a gooey topping...what's not to like?
Also, since we're talking about coconut, I learned this trick on how to un-sweeten coconut flakes from The Kitchen Generation. I can only find sweetened coconut flakes in my grocery store but if you place the sweetened flakes in a fine-mesh sieve or colander and then run water over the flakes until the water is clear, you remove the sugar. The spread the flakes on a cookie sheet to dry.  This tip isn't really relevant to this recipe (although I am sure you could use unsweetened flakes here) but how ingenious is that?
Ok, enough of sharing tips and onto finally sharing the recipe:
Coconut Bars
Taken from: Gourmet Magazine (the October 1953 issue!) via Honey & Jam
Serves 10-12 (I easily halved this recipe by using a loaf pan)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I recommend adding more)
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • pinch of salt
  1. Cream 1/2 cup of butter. Add gradually 1/2 cup brown sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in 1 cup sifted flour and spread batter in the bottom of a 8 inch square cake pan. Bake in a moderate oven (375) for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. While crust is baking, beat 2 eggs and 1 cup light brown sugar together until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/2+ cup shredded coconut tossed with 2 tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt. Spread this batter over the crust and continue to bake for 20 minutes longer. Cool completely (sticking it in the fridge helps speed up this process) and then cut into squares or bars.

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