These coconut cream bars are made with a soft, buttery cookie bar base topped with a light coconut cream frosting, all topped off with toasted coconut. Simple and delicious, these coconut-infused dessert bars make a perfect springtime treat!
Despite the fact that we had a very mild winter complete with a more-than-fair share of 70-degree days and scarcely any snow, I spent most of the winter months impatiently awaiting springtime.
Longer days, blue skies and bright sunshine are finally here, there are daffodils beginning to bloom in my front yard and we’ve already had a full weekend with every window in the house open, so I think it’s safe to say that winter is behind us.
With the change of the seasons comes a shift in my baking preferences, as well. The enchantment of browned butters, caramel and even chocolate begins to fade ever so slightly as I start to crave lighter desserts, and the transition into springtime is every bit to blame for these coconut cream bars that I have for you today.
I was worried that these coconut cream bars were going to be too sweet at first, so I was relieved when I took my first bite and they weren’t at all. Definitely sweet, but not…. cloyingly so, which is exactly what I’d aimed for.
To help offset the sweetness, both the cookie bars and the frosting are slightly tempered by a small portion of cream cheese. It has an extremely subtle, nearly imperceptible tang, but keeps the taste from being too much.
The cream cheese also has a great effect on the cookie bars — making them delectably soft, melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
While you don’t have to toast some of the coconut for this recipe, I strongly recommend it.
After baking your cookie bar base, leave your oven on and spread about one cup of shredded coconut evenly over a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. It just takes a few minutes to toast the coconut, so watch it carefully and make sure you use a spatula to turn the flakes a few times so everything browns evenly and nothing burns.
The toasted coconut adds a slightly crisp texture to an otherwise soft and chewy dessert.
Additionally, you can toss everything off with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate, which I just might have done myself after I finished photographing these bars.
Hey, I said chocolate’s enchantment lessened, not disappeared completely 😉
Enjoy, and I’d love to know: what’s your favorite Springtime dessert?
Coconut Cream Bars
Coconut Cream Bars -- Buttery cookie bars topped with a light coconut cream frosting
Buttery Soft Cookie Bars
Buttery cookie bars
Preheat oven to 350F (177C) and prepare a 13x9 pan by lining with parchment paper (or lightly grease and flour). Set aside.
Combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a large bowl and an electric mixer). Beat together on medium-speed until well creamed (about 1 minute).
Add sugar and gradually increase mixer speed to high, beating until well-combined and fluffy (about 1 minute).
Add eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, stirring well between each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to ensure ingredients are well-combined.
Stir in vanilla extract and coconut extract.
In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, stirring on medium-low speed until completely combined.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake on 350F (177C) for 25 minutes. Allow cookie bars to cool completely in pan before covering with coconut cream frosting. -- Do not turn off the oven, you will use it to briefly toast your coconut next.
Coconut Cream Frosting
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle 1 cup of coconut evenly over the cookie sheet. Bake in 350F (177C) oven for 3 minutes, remove, turn with spatula, and return to oven and repeat until coconut is lightly browned (about 10-15 minutes, total). Allow toasted coconut to cool while you prepare the frosting.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese.
Gradually, slowly, add powdered sugar, beating until combined. Add milk and stir, increasing speed to high, and beat until smooth and creamy (about 30 seconds on high)
Sprinkle in salt and add extracts, stir well.
Spread frosting evenly over cooled cookie bars. Press 1 1/2 cups untoasted coconut over cookie bars, and then sprinkle toasted coconut overtop. Cut and serve. Frosting will set and become more stable as it sits.
Optional: For an extra decadent treat, drizzle with melted dark chocolate.
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