This is a riff on Mark Bittman's recipe in "How to Cook Everything" called, "Gabriella's Lemon Squares" and while they weren't picture perfect coming out of the pan, they sure did taste good. I love unsweetened, toasted coconut's nutty naturally sweet flavor.
Actually, I think my problems getting them out of the pan could have been solved by using a metal baking pan with square corners and lining it with well-buttered parchment paper as I don't think the Pyrex pan's rounded corners did me any favors. Next time - and oh my friends, there will definitely be a next time - I won't spread the coconut up the sides as it made cutting the bars more difficult. With the coconut on top, it's easier to start your cuts in the middle of the pan and work out towards the edges. I even think a metal pastry scraper with a straight edge would work well.
The original recipe did not call for zest, but I added that to both the crust and the filling as well as upping the lime juice to 1/3 cup.
Oh - and let's just get this out of the way. I know some of you have already thought of this and those who haven't, I want to share this with you because I had this song in my head the entire time I was cooking as well as the time it took to write this post!
... aaaaaand you're welcome!
RECIPE: LIME COCONUT BARS
Adapted from Mark Bittman's "Gabrielle's Lemon Square" from "How to Cook Everything"
Makes 16 2" x 2" servings
- 8" or 9" square pan. Check both the crust and filling earlier if using the larger size. I think a pan with square corners works best.
- Parchment paper
- Cooling rack
- Be careful not to over-bake the filling. The edges should feel firm (but not hard) and the middle should still be a little soft. If the coconut's not browning evenly, rotate the pan.
- If your butter is too hard and you're in a rush, cut it up into cubes, put the cubes between 2 layers of plastic wrap and bash it with a meat tenderizer (smooth side) or a rolling pin.
- 1 stick softened butter (8 tablespoons) + more to grease the pan
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Grated zest of 3 limes, divided
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup of unsweetened, grated coconut
Pre-heat the oven to 350F, rack in the middle
Grease an 8" or 9" square baking pan with 2 teaspoons of butter and line with 1 sheet of parchment paper. Butter the top of that sheet with 2 teaspoons of butter and then lay a second sheet over the first. Cut the sheets large enough so that the side rise above the rim of the baking dish. These bits will act as handles to help you remove the lemon square from the pan. Set the pan aside.
With an electric mixer, cream 1 stick softened butter with 1/4 cup of the sugar, the zest of 1 lime and the salt. Stir in 1 cup of flour. This should be a dry-ish mixture. Press into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. It should just be turning golden. Remove from the oven and cool for about minutes. Leave the oven on.
In a clean bowl, beat the eggs, lime juice, the zest of 2 limes and the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar until the mixture is light and thick. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour, baking soda and mix until combined. Pour this mixture over the crust and sprinkle 1 cup of the unsweetened, grated coconut over the top. Try not to pile the coconut up on the sides as it will be harder to make clean cuts.
Bake until the edges are firm but the center is still a little soft for 25 - 30 minutes. Check at 15 minutes if you are using the larger size (9") pan. If the coconut is browning unevenly, rotate the pan.
When done, cool completely and cut into 2" squares (or whatever size you wish) and serve. This can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-4 days. Bear in mind that the coconut will lose a little of its crispness if stored, but it will still taste great. Let them come to room temperature before serving if you do store them in the refrigerator.