Coconut Bars

July 8, 2009


Is it fair to say that everyone has a hard time coming back from vacation?  I know I always do.  Back in the days when I had a desk job, I would feel an almost overwhelming depression when I was finally back in my house and realizing I had to go to work the next day.

Now that my life is very different, I don’t feel that same despair but it certainly is hard to get back into the regular routine.  This time around it’s especially hard because my husband is going to basically be gone for the next three weeks, essentially making me a single parent.  When Randy is not here, I don’t put that much effort into cooking.  I know some people delight in cooking for one, but I am not one of those people.  In some ways I welcome the break.  In other ways I miss cooking.

I am lucky to have my family living close by and when Randy is out of town, I always invite my parents and my brother Michael over for dinner.  I invite them most weeks anyway, but it’s especially nice to have them here when I’m flying solo.  I welcome the company but I also welcome the chance to cook.  They are enthusiastic eaters of my food.


Since my brother is a cookie monster of the highest order, I can’t have them here without some kind of baked good to send him home with.  I usually make something I’m certain he will like, but since he really loves anything in bar or cookie form, this time I decided to cater to my parents.  Both my mom and dad love coconut.  I have a recipe from Food and Wine for a sophisticated take on a Mounds bar that I have been meaning to make.  The problem is, it’s one of those recipes that takes up the entire page of the magazine.  There are three elements to the bar, each one fairly time consuming and complicated.  Not quite the right thing to tackle this week.

Instead I offer you this fairly simple Coconut Bar from Vegetarian Classics.  It’s not perfect but it’s easy.  If you are a coconut fan, this is a great way to satisfy a craving.


One Year Ago:  Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice, Artichoke Panzanella, White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes

Coconut Bars
Adapted from Vegetarian Classics
Makes 16 bars

The original recipe calls for only 1/2 cup of chocolate chips but I used a full cup.  Because I am a chocolate person, I think it could have used even more but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

The Crust:
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt

The Topping:
6 oz. Neufchatel (light cream cheese), softened
3 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tbsp. flour
3 cups (about 12 ounces) sweetened coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly butter a 9×13 baking pan.

2.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until blended.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Sprinkle in the flour and salt, and beat just until combined.  Scrape the batter into the prepared dish and use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly on the bottom.  It will be very thin.  Bake 15 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, make the topping using the same bowl and beaters (you don’t have to wash them.)  Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the sugar, egg, and almond extract, and beat until combined.  Stir in the coconut.

4.  When the crust is done, spoon the batter into it.  Carefully spread it around to cover the crust evenly.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or just until the top off the batter begins to get a tiny bit of color.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

5.  While the bars are still hot, fill a medium-size saucepan halfway with water, bring to a boil, and remove the pan from the heat.  Place the chocolate chips in a small Ziploc bag and tilt the bag so the chocolate chips collect in one corner.  Lower the bag into the water, keeping the chips in the corner, and let them melt, about 2 minutes.  Squeeze the chips occasionally to see if they are melted.  Remove the bag from the water.  Keeping the bag tilted, snip off a very tiny piece of the corner.  Squirt the chocolate all over the coconut surface in an abstract pattern.  When everything is completely cooled, cut into bars.


  1. I’m a coconut fanatic so this definitely looks amazing to me! I love that there’s cream cheese in the topping too. Looking forward to seeing the other coconut bar!

    Comment by Ashley — July 8, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  2. Why hello there, that just looks like one of my most perfect dream desserts. I love coconut and when drizzled with chocolate? Too perfect. I might even throw some toasted almonds in there just cuz.

    Comment by kickpleat — July 8, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

  3. These look great. Like coconut brownies.

    Comment by Cooking With Dia — July 8, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

  4. Mmmmm… I too, love coconut. These look so yummy. I can totally relate to that feeling of depression you had returning to work after vacation. Boo! I can’t wait for the day when I too can leave the days of desk jobs behind me :)

    Comment by Deanna — July 8, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

  5. So nice of you to invite the family over. My husband works 3 weeks on, 3 week off and when he is away I cook simple dinners. I’m glad I have my two sons to share meals with me. Those bars looks delicious.

    Comment by Hélène — July 8, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

  6. I’m a bit of a cookie monster myself! AND a chocolate person… AND a coconut person –> these bars are perfect for me!
    I hear you on the post-vacation slump: happens to me every time!

    Comment by Marta — July 8, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  7. Ok, I too cut out that Food and Wine recipe and haven’t touched it yet because of the length of it and the requisite 14 lbs of chocolate, but one of these days. And, I picked up a copy of Veg. Classics because of your recommendation, so I’m going to mark this page right now. These look great!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — July 8, 2009 @ 9:29 pm

  8. Totally up my alley. I can’t wait to try these. I know exactly what you mean about welcoming a break from cooking and missing it at the same time. When it’s just me and the kids and I’m not cooking dinner, I find I start making a lot more sweets. There’s some part of me that just NEEDS to be in the kitchen, I guess.

    Comment by The Leftoverist — July 9, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  9. This looks really yummy. I’ll bet it is great!

    Last Thanksgiving, when I had oodles of leftover mashed potatoes, I made some very Mounds-like candies out of the potatoes and coconut and chocolate. I’ll add the link here, in case you have any leftover mashed potatoes lying around that you are dying to use up :) As I recall, it wasn’t at all difficult to make.

    Comment by lynn@queenofthecastlerecipes — July 10, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

  10. Those coconut bars look so good!

    Comment by Kevin — July 11, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  11. Those look super amazing, I love coconut desserts!

    Comment by Jayne — September 25, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

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