Coconut Dream Bars are an incredibly addictive old fashioned cookie bar with a toffee shortbread crust and a gooey coconut filling. They are super easy to make with basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
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You’re going to love these
Easy cookie bars. These coconut dream bars are so easy to make. Just let your mixer combine the shortbread crust ingredients, then stir the coconut filling together. It’s a two-step process, but you can use the same bowl for both steps. So clean-up is easy, too!
Simple pantry staple ingredients. The ingredients for these coconut dream bars are brown sugar, flour, butter, salt, eggs, coconut, baking powder, and vanilla. So you probably have everything you need to make these right now.
Super dreamy bars. When I first read the ingredients for this recipe, I thought, Dream bars? How good can they really be? It’s just butter, flour, eggs, coconut, and brown sugar. Then I made them. And now I understand. These. Are. A. Dream.
Vintage recipe. I am lucky enough to have 4 of our grandmothers’ recipe collections, and I found this one in my husband’s grandmother’s recipe box. It is written in loopy cursive… and apparently coconut was spelled “cocoanut” back then? But don’t tell anyone I changed the ratios in her recipe… sssshhhhh!
Coconut bars. If you love coconut, you will love these cookie bars. The coconut filling has a caramelly, toffee-like flavor and a gooey texture that makes them really hard to stop eating.
Toffee shortbread crust. If shortbread and toffee had a baby, it would be this crust. It’s so amazing what four simple ingredients can do.
So addictive. The first time I made these coconut bars, I got up the next morning and found out that “something had happened” to half the pan. My husband couldn’t stop eating them. And you won’t be able to, either.
Make them your own. These coconut dream bars are pretty perfect just as they are. But if your heart is telling you to throw in some chocolate chips or pecans or… I don’t know… raisins… go for it!
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Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
Brown sugar. If you are out of brown sugar, no need to run to the store to make these coconut bars. You can easily make your own with white sugar and molasses or maple syrup. For each cup of light brown sugar, use one cup of white sugar plus one tablespoon of molasses or maple syrup.
Butter. You need room temperature butter for the toffee shortbread crust. If your butter is colder than that, you’ll just end up mixing the dough ingredients for quite a while to get them to fully incorporate — which can be a bit meditative. I always forget to soften my butter until right before I start baking. So, if you’re like me, you can use one of these tricks to get soft butter quickly.
Fill a glass measuring cup with water and microwave it on high for 2-3 minutes. While that’s happening, cut a cold stick of butter into ½” thick slices and arrange them in a single layer on a small plate. When the water is hot, QUICKLY open the microwave and place your plate of butter inside (keep the water in the microwave). In 10 minutes, you’ll have softened butter.
Other clever ways of softening butter include grating it with a box grater, placing it in a zipper bag and whacking it with a rolling pin to flatten it out so it will quickly get to room temperature, or placing it in a metal bowl over a water bath.
Eggs. When baking these coconut bars, I always use room temperature eggs. And since I usually forget to set them out ahead of time, I just place them in a bowl of warm water for about ten minutes, and they’re ready.
8X8 square pan. I used an 8x8 pan for this recipe. If you use a pan that is 9x9, you will need to make some adjustments because your bars will be thinner. According to this article from the Food Network, you can increase the oven temp by 25 degrees and decrease the baking time by 25%.
How to Make Coconut Dream Bars
Preheat the oven to 350.
Make the toffee shortbread crust. With a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix the brown sugar, flour, butter, and salt together until it forms a soft dough. If you are using a hand mixer, you may need to get in there and knead the dough together with your hands.
Pat the shortbread crust into a 8X8 square pan and bake for 10 minutes. Just a heads up, your crust will look all sorts of wrong at this point. It isn't. Trust the process.
If your pan is 9x9, your bars will be thinner and require less baking time. To make this adjustment, the folks at Food Network recommend increasing the oven temp by 25 degrees and decreasing the baking time by 25%.
Make the coconut filling. Stir together the beaten eggs, flour, sugar, coconut, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.
Pour the coconut filling over the shortbread crust and bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165-200 degrees.
Let them cool completely and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Easy Coconut Dream Bars
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup softened butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 beaten eggs
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup sweetened coconut
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Make the toffee shortbread crust. With a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix the brown sugar, flour, butter, and salt together until it forms a soft dough. The dough should not be crumbly, if you are using a hand mixer, you may need to knead the dough together with your hands.
- Pat the shortbread crust into an 8x8 square pan and bake for 10 minutes. If your pan is 9x9, your bars will be thinner and require less baking time. To make this adjustment, the folks at Food Network recommend increasing the oven temp by 25 degrees and decreasing the baking time by 25%.
- Make the coconut filling. Stir together the beaten eggs, flour, sugar, coconut, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Pour the coconut filling over the shortbread crust and bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165-200 degrees.
- Let them cool completely and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
My recipe essentials
The shortbread crust dough for these coconut dream bars is pretty stiff. And to get it to that state, you’re going to need a mixer. I don’t have a stand mixer because this KitchenAid 7-speed hand mixer has done a great job of tackling everything I’ve thrown at it.
Vintage Mixing Bowl
Why do I love this bowl so much? Well, for starters, my mom handed it down to me. AND it’s the one that was used for everything from mixing up our birthday cakes to serving mountains of potato salad when I was growing up. But, it’s also made from durable Pyrex and has handy pour spouts on either side. Plus, there’s gold roosters.