I’m a huge fan of coconut – if there’s coconut in it chances are good that I will make it or eat it. Coconut cream pie, coconut coffee creamer, shredded coconut in cookies, coconut flavoring, coconut milk for curry, and coconut oil for popcorn. I came across this recipe over Christmas break at my in-laws house in a magazine they had, it was from Martina McBride and her recipe for coconut lemon bars. Of course I grabbed the recipe and finally got around to making them. My neighbor brought me a grocery sack full of lemons and oranges from her tree two weeks ago and the lemons needed to get used up so I decided it was the perfect time to bust out my apron and get to work.
This recipe can easily be halved and put into a smaller pan but for this full recipe you’ll need: eggs, butter, flour, sugar, sweetened coconut flakes, powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and baking powder.
First, add the flour, sugar and salt to a food processor and mix a few seconds. Then, add in the coconut flakes and cold butter, process until all combined. The recipe said to toast the coconut first, but of course I didn’t read that, so I didn’t toast mine. The bars came out great but I think toasting them would’ve brought out the coconut flavor a little more.
Dump into casserole dish lined with buttered foil and press into the bottom of the pan. Put the pan into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. I left mine in for 20 minutes but it only needed 15, it was a little too done around the edges and on the bottom.
As the crust is baking, begin making the filling. Add the eggs to the food processor with the lemon zest, lemon juice, baking powder, 2 tsp of flour and 1-1/2 cups of sugar then process until mixed well.
When the bottom layer is done, pull it out of the oven and pour the lemon mixture over. Put it back into the oven for another 25-30 minutes until the lemon part is just set and slightly browned around the edges.
I’ve never made lemon bars before so I wasn’t completely sure how much to brown the top but the lemon part came out really well, and like I mentioned above the bottom crust was a little overcooked. What I didn’t think about was how it went into the oven for 15 minutes then back in for 30, which was just a little too much for the bottom.
Let it cool and then cut the dessert into small squares and sprinkle powdered sugar over the top. Be generous with the powdered sugar – you want a good layer of it, more than what I did in the photo below. Next time I would even toast up some extra coconut and sprinkle it over the top to just add a little more coconut flavor.
These are so delicious! The crust tastes like coconut shortbread with a really fresh lemon layer and the sweetness of the powdered sugar really brings it all together and helps to cut the tartness of the lemon. I’ve never been a huge fan of lemon bars, even though I’m a huge fan of lemons, but I do love these! It also made a large enough batch that I’m going to take about half to work tomorrow so that I don’t eat them all… because I would eat them all in no time if I let myself.
These were a lot easier to make than I thought so I’m sure they’ll become a little more of a regular in my dessert lineup.. perfect to give away, take to work or make for a party! I hope you make them soon.
p.s. and for all you coconut haters out there – you can easily omit the coconut and still have a fabulous dessert.
- 2 cups, plus 2 tsp. Flour, divided
- 2 cups Sugar, divided
- 2 pinches Kosher Salt
- 1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted according to package directions
- 12 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cubed
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tbsp. lemon zest
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350*. Line a 13x9-in. baking pan with heavy duty foil, leaving an overhang for easy removal. Lightly grease foil.
- Pulse 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor for 5 seconds. Add coconut and butter; process until mixture resembles fine meal and begins to clump togeter. Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
- Bake for 15 min or until crust is golden around the edges. Remove.
- Blend eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, baking powder, a pinch of salt and remaining flour and sugar in food processor until smooth. Pour filling evenly over hot crust.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling begins to brown at the edges and is just set. Remove pan to a wire rack; cool completely.
- Grasp edges of foil lining the baking pan, and carefully lift lemon mixture onto cutting surface. Slice into bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.