I feel like possibly with the exception of olives, no food is more polarizing than coconut. I think you either love it or you hate it. Sometimes you can love it and hate it in the same lifetime.
I remember shunning all coconut-based Halloween candy as a kid, but now I make coconut risotto, and buy tons of coconut goodies for the trick or treaters coming to my house, in hopes that those kids shun them like I used to, and they’ll all be left for me to eat.
Whenever I make a baked good with coconut in it, I feel like I always need to qualify it when offering it to other people. Like, “here . . . I brought you these lemon and almond bars . . . but FYI there’s coconut.” And then I wait for the reaction, crossing my fingers that my friend is a fellow coconut lover.
If there were a matchmaking site for friendships (there probably is, actually), I would ensure that all of my friends are coconut fans like myself.
I mean, it’s just so . . . tropical! I can’t eat a coconut dessert without envisioning myself back on my honeymoon in Hawaii, lying on the beach or cruising the twisty Maui highways in a convertible. These Lemon Coconut Dream Bars take lots of elements that I love and combine them into one chewy dessert bar. Coconut? Check. Lemons? Of course. Graham cracker crust? Yep, the gang’s all here.
One quick note about assembling this Lemon Coconut Dream Bar recipe. I learned the hard way that once graham cracker crust is par-baked, it’s pretty hard to “spread” the thick coconut and almond mixture on top of it without disrupting the crust.
Instead of plopping the coconut mixture into the center of the pan and trying to spread it across the crust, make sure you just place small dollops of the coconut mixture evenly across the crust. That way, the amount of spreading you have to do is very minimal, and the graham cracker crust will stay perfectly intact!
For the Crust:
- 1 3/4 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted
- nonstick baking spray
For the Coconut and Almond Layer:
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Grated Lemon Zest
- 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1 1/2 cups Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
- 1 cup Sliced Almonds
For the Glaze:
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice, Plus additional if needed
- To Make the Crust:Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs and butter.
- Lightly spray bottom and sides of 9 x 13-inch baking pan with baking spray. Evenly press graham cracker mixture into bottom of pan.
- Transfer to oven and bake 8 minutes.
- To Make the Coconut and Almond Layer: In large bowl, beat eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon extract and vanilla extract until well combined.
- Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix until fully incorporated. Stir in coconut and almonds.
- Evenly dot coconut mixture over graham cracker crust. Gently spread coconut mixture evenly across crust.
- Transfer to oven and bake 17 to 20 minutes or until coconut mixture is golden brown.
- Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before glazing.
- To Make the Glaze: In small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice. Glaze should have a thick but pourable consistency. If necessary, add additional lemon juice in 1/2 teaspoon increments until correct consistency is achieved.
- Pour over bars, cut and serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 195Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 84mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 17gProtein: 3g