Do you ever stumble upon a recipe with an enticing picture over these interwebs, and you HAVE to make that recipe right now? Right now, as in, at the front of the line before countless dog-eared pages, bookmarks, and pins? Yeah, me too, and this lemon bar recipe is an example of that. When I ran across the recipe on FREUTCAKE, the enticing picture grabbed my attention, and the ingredient list held my curiosity.
On any given day, there’s a good chance I would pass over a chocolate-loaded brownie in favor of a good lemon bar. I’m talking about a lemon bar with a buttery shortbread crust and a lemon layer that’s tart enough to make me pucker. I had a feeling that these bars would not disappoint. First, the crust is mixed with graham cracker crumbs and toasted coconut. And then there’s the lemon layer that includes the zest and juice from eight lemons, twelve egg yolks, and four whole eggs.
I added lemons to my shopping list and planned to make them one evening to take to work the next day. I ended up not making them that night, but that was probably better because the project was a little involved. Did I mention the zest and juice of eight lemons? I made them on a Sunday afternoon and it provided some quality time in the kitchen.
I was right, these bars did not disappoint. They were luscious, lemony, and tart. I recommend making them when you want dessert for a gathering though. Did I mention the twelve egg yolks and four whole eggs?
Lemon Coconut Bars
1 ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup graham cracker crumbs (from two whole crackers)
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
12 large egg yolks, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
¾ cup finely grated lemon zest (from about eight lemons)
1 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from the zested lemons)
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
½ cup canned unsweetened coconut milk or heavy cream
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish with foil so that it overhangs the two short sides, and lightly spray the foil with baking spray. Set aside. In a small mixing bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir to combine and set aside. Line a medium rimmed baking sheet with foil and spread the coconut over the pan. Toast the coconut in the preheated oven until it is light golden brown, stirring every two to three minutes. Watch closely to not let it get too dark. It will go from just right to overdone very quickly. Carefully pour ¾ cup of the toasted coconut into a bowl (reserving one cup for topping) and refrigerate a few minutes to cool. Add the graham cracker crumbs to the cooled coconut and stir to combine.
In a large mixing bowl for a standing mixer, add the butter and powdered sugar. Mix on medium-high until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla until just combined. In two additions, carefully stir in the flour/salt mixture until it’s mixed in. Fold in the coconut/graham cracker mixture. Press the dough evenly onto the bottom of the prepared dish. The bottom of a measuring cup is helpful here. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 18-22 minutes. Set aside.
For the lemon layer:
While the crust is baking, start preparing the lemon curd. In a medium saucepan, add the yolks, whole eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and juice. Whisk to combine, and turn the heat to medium. While constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling, cook until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble. To test whether the curd is ready, dip a spoon into the mixture and remove. If you draw a line on the back of the spoon and it stays in place, it is ready. Remove immediately from the heat. Whisk in the butter and coconut milk or cream until the curd is smooth. Working with a little of the curd at a time and pressing with the back of a spoon, strain the curd through a fine-mesh strainer directly onto the cooked crust. Smooth the top.
Bake bars until the center of the filling is just set, about 15-17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Chill until cold, 2-3 hours or up to 2 days. Use the foil to lift the slab out of the pan and cut into bars, sprinkle with reserved coconut, and serve cold.
Recipe was slightly adapted from FREUTCAKE, via Bon Appetit.